Brenda Phillips, Maureen Fordham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This opening chapter provides an overview of why understanding social vulnerability matters for the practice of disaster management. The chapter content contrasts the historically dominant hazards approach with that of social vulnerability and concludes with an overview of upcoming sections and chapters. The book discusses why such vulnerabilities exist, what can be done to foster change, and ultimately, reduce vulnerabilities and build capacity. It takes a multi-disciplinary approach to examine historical, geographic, social, and cultural factors and conditions that put people differently at risk before, during, and after disasters. The contributors explore how vulnerable social groups are affected by and cope with hazardous conditions and events. Each chapter provides strategies for community based mitigation by engaging those populations most at risk. Research has shown that recognizing and focusing on at-risk populations can create better mitigation, response, preparedness, and recovery capabilities, as well as lessening the economic and social impact of disasters. Based on materials developed for the FEMA Higher Education Project, this book is an empirically-based guide on the practical value of incorporating social aspects of disasters into emergency management, public administration, and social service programs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Vulnerability to Disasters
Place of PublicationBoca Raton, FL
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISBN (Print)978-1420078565
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


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