Tuesday, 13 January 2009: 2:45 PM
Political Cultural and Economic Vulnerabilities in One Nicaraguan Community
Room 121A (Phoenix Convention Center)
Prior research has indicated that both environment and society are necessary elements for natural disasters. However, scholars have debated as to whether environment or society should be characterized as the key contributor of the potentially devastating effects of these events. The perspective claiming that disaster is a social vulnerability indicates that while hazards are the result of a natural process, the disaster is the result of the combination of this hazard and the social vulnerability it interacts with. Past disaster research has investigated the impact that society has on a nation as a whole, but has done little on a community scale. As a result, disaster research has not yet captured the ability to understand social vulnerability at the local level. This paper integrates cultural, economic, and political aspects of the developing world that have traditionally influenced social vulnerability and risk perceptions in the event of a natural disaster at the community level. In order to assess theses societal influences on disaster events, a case study was developed which focuses on hurricanes through past experiences and future perceptions in the Atlantic Coastal area of Bluefields, Nicaragua. Overall this research expands on the theory that society plays a key role in natural disasters. Through a case study of Bluefields, Nicaragua, cultural perspectives are integrated and contribute to the hypothesis at the local level.