Sociologist Alice Fothergill of the University of Vermont is quoted along with other sociologists in an article at Inside Higher Ed summarizing recent sociological work on natural disasters. The article, titled “Sociology in the Storms,” was written by Libby A. Nelson.
Whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake, or some other disaster, according to Fothergill, “There are all these ways in which people are finding that it’s this valuable setting, where people are finding that they have insights that they might not have during non-disaster times.” The article goes on to summarize some of the findings of this research, including the fact people usually do not panic in the face of such disasters.
Hurricane Katrina played an especially pivotal role in raising interest in this research area. People sought to understand what happened and why and found that sociological factors played a critical role. As sociologist Kathleen Tierney, the director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder is quoted as saying, “Katrina revealed to a much larger audience the sorts of things that disaster researchers had already been studying, things like social vulnerability, race and class and ethnicity as they relate to disaster victimization and losses.”