The Human Side of Disaster

2nd Edition

Thomas E. Drabek

CRC Press
Published March 1, 2013
Textbook - 446 Pages - 2 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9781466506855 - CAT# K14640

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  • Provides insight based on the nearly five decades of research and expertise from one of the original pioneers in the study of sociological aspects of disasters
  • Uses a conversational, readable style that illustrates how humans react in crisis and the best manner to communicate disaster plans and response to the public
  • Reiterates insights that sociological research has discovered about human behavior in the midst, and aftermath, of disasters
  • Presents specific human behavior insights using constructed scenarios based on real-world disaster cases
  • Highlights variations in disaster warning and evacuation responses to illustrate how gender, class, and race constrain what disaster victims actually do
  • Explores the important roles and actions of volunteers and the range of barriers that limit their contributions
  • Integrates numerous disasters that have occurred since the first edition as illustrations of fundamental principles
  • Outlines a new strategic vision for the profession of emergency management


Since the first edition of The Human Side of Disaster was published in 2009, new catastrophes have plagued the globe, including earthquakes in Haiti and New Zealand, tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri, floods in numerous locations, Hurricane Sandy, and the infamous BP oil spill. Enhanced with new cases and real-world examples, The Human Side of Disaster, Second Edition presents an updated summary of the social science knowledge base of human responses to disaster. Dr. Drabek draws upon his 40-plus years of conducting research on individual, group, and organizational responses to disaster to illustrate and integrate key insights from the social sciences to teach us how to anticipate human behaviors in crisis.

The book begins with a series of original short stories rooted within actual disaster events. These stories are woven into the entire text to demonstrate essential findings from the research literature. Dr. Drabek provides an overview of the range of disasters and hazards confronting the public and an explanation of why these are increasing each year, both in number and scope of impact.

The core of the book is a summary of key findings regarding disaster warning responses, evacuation behavior, initial post-impact survival behavior, traditional and emergent roles of volunteers, and both short-term and longer-term disaster impacts. The theme of "organized-disorganization" is used to illustrate multiorganizational response networks that form the key managerial task for local emergency managers. The final chapter provides a new vision for the emergency management profession—one that reflects a more strategic approach wherein disasters are viewed as non-routine social problems.

This book will continue to be an invaluable reference for professionals and students in emergency management and public policy and aid organizations who need to understand human behavior and how best to communicate and work with the public in disaster situations.


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