USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development

Contents of Recent Issues

Volume 20, No. 2. (August 2002)

Presidential Address

    Benigno E. Aguirre, "Can Sustainable Development Sustain Us?", pp. 111-125.

      This paper presents a review of Disasters by Design, the recent, influential second U.S. national assessment of research on natural and technological hazards that takes stock of the disciplinary knowledge and policy issues in the field of disasters. It identifies four analytical matters left unresolved in its central theme on the importance of sustainable development for disaster mitigation, having to do with the dual emphasis on the local and on the global, cultural change, the implicit assumptions that planners and social engineers know best, and the consensual model of politics. It also identifies some practical problems that the adoption of a sustainable development framework advocated by the report may pose for the specialty. (AA)

    Comments by

      Allen H. Barton

      John Handmer

      Dennis S. Mileti

    A Reply by

      Benigno E. Aguirre

Articles by:

    Simon A. Bennett, "Lock and Load? Explaining Different Policies for Delivering Safety and Security in the Air," pp. 141-169.

      The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon generated significant social, economic, and political perturbations. The airline industry has been affected directly, with passenger numbers down and some airlines such as Midway in the United States and Sabena in Europe ceasing to exist. In an effort to restore confidence, the airlines, regulatory agencies, and governments on both sides of the Atlantic introduced “emergency” measures to increase public confidence in security. While cockpit incursion poses a risk to air safety (although it is not a novel phenomenon) other factors may also compromise safety (such as crew fatigue, flawed design, careless maintenance, and poor intra-crew communication and coordination. Both the United States (U.S.) and the United Kingdom (U.K.) have done much work on improving this latter safety-related aspect of commercial air operations. Out of this work has emerged the discipline of cockpit or crew resource management (CRM). (Different nomenclatures may be used.) One of the preconditions for effective CRM is ease of access between the flight deck and cabin. In the U.K., the British Air Line Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has voiced concern over the impact that locked and barred cockpit doors and new communication protocols will have on CRM. This has not been a major public concern of America’s Air Line Pilots’ Association (ALPA). This paper uses Kasperson’s theory of risk amplification and Sprent’s observations on risk attenuation to understand (a) how two organizations working in the same industry and representing the same grade of worker could generate different risk perceptions and (b) how the major pilots’ union of the country that did much of the early work on CRM (the United States) could de-emphasize it in post-September 11 debates on crew and passenger safety. (AA)

    Michael Paolisso, Amanda Ritchie, and Aleyda Ramirez, "The Significance of the Gender Division of Labor in Assessing Disaster Impacts: A Case Study of Hurricane Mitch and Hillside Farmers in Honduras," pp. 171-195.

      To date, most disaster study and practice have not explicitly considered the different roles, needs, and experiences of women and men in response to disasters. Disaster research that does incorporate gender analysis often concludes that the needs, experiences, and contributions of men and women in disaster situations are distinct. In this paper, we present a case study analysis of the agricultural and domestic impacts of Hurricane Mitch among rural, hillside farmers in Honduras, disaggregated by gender. Our research incorporates empirical data from 68 households and reveals that men and women reported similar physical impacts, but that they evaluated these impacts differently depending on where the impact fell within the gender division of labor. Our main conclusion is that impact evaluation and disaster policy must include a consideration of disaster impacts as they are filtered through the actual and normative gender division of labor, in order to determine the degree of priority or severity assigned to impacts. (AA)

    Thomas E. Drabek and David A. McEntire, "Emergent Phenomena and Multiorganizational Coordination in Disasters: Lessons from the Research Literature," pp. 197-224.

      Research on emergent behavior and response coordination has been a significant feature of the disaster studies literature. Through a detailed review of past and recent sociological research, the following paper summarizes what is known about multiorganizational coordination. After defining what we mean by emergence and coordination, a brief discussion follows about the process by which literature was selected for this review. The article then highlights the importance of coordination for response operations, explains why it is often problematic, and provides recommendations to improve multiorganizational collaboration in disasters. The article concludes with implications for the theory and practice of emergency management. (AA)

    R. Steven Daniels and Carolyn L. Clark-Daniels, "Vulnerability Reduction and Political Responsiveness: Explaining Executive Decisions in U.S. Disaster Policy during the Ford and Carter Administrations," pp. 225-253.

      Decision-making by elected executives on disaster policy reflects comprehensive vulnerability management, political responsiveness to the media, political negotiation, and intergovernmental conflict. If vulnerability reduction is a significant influence, executive decisions should reflect political and social vulnerability and self-sufficiency. If political responsiveness influences disaster decisions, executive decisions should also reflect media coverage, proximity to elections, and decisions at other levels of government. The data set included 293 major disaster requests between 1974 and 1981. The analysis used multiple regression and logistic regression. Vulnerability reduction had an impact on aid decisions. Political responsiveness affected most decisions on disaster relief. The Ford administration was more sensitive to both responsiveness and vulnerability than the Carter administration. Overall, nationalization of disaster assistance has made the achievement of vulnerability management more difficult. The absence of minimum criteria has increased the discretion of executive choice. (AA)

Feedback from the Field

    William C. Metz, Paul L. Hewett, Jr., Julie Muzzarelli, and Edward Tanzman, "Identifying Special-Needs Households That Need Assistance for Emergency Planning," pp. 255-281.

      State governments are increasingly requiring state and local emergency management offices to maintain lists of persons with special needs who may require assistance in disaster situations. In addition, federal courts are beginning to apply the Americans with Disabilities Act to emergency planning. This study characterizes special-needs households that are located in the vicinity of a chemical weapons storage site in Alabama. For this study, a special-needs household is defined as a residence having at least one person with physical or mental problems, a transportation dependence, or a child who is home alone at times and requires assistance from outside the family or current circle of relatives, friends, and neighbors to take specific protective actions. The special-needs households were identified through a myriad of collection methods, including random sampling, saturation mailing/self-registration, targeted distribution/self-registration, agency and support provider lists, and referrals. Attitudes toward specific protective actions and an assessment of the ability of the special-needs household to take those actions were also sought out. Approximately 9 percent of the community’s households were identified as containing persons with special needs who require assistance during emergencies. The study also identified the highly perishable nature of special-needs population records maintained by emergency management agencies. During a data verification process conducted 3 months after the data collection effort concluded, almost half of the previously identified 3,294 individuals with special needs had their situation change or could not be reached for verification. Concurrently, 1,090 new persons with special needs identified themselves as needing assistance. Recommendations are made to the emergency planning community for addressing the support needs of special populations. (AA)

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