Vulnerability, “Innocent” Disasters and the Imperative of Cultural Understanding

Published on 1 January 2008

The purpose of this paper is to make an argument that there are different types of social construction of disasters.

The focus is on disasters triggered by natural hazards.

It is now widely accepted that disasters are a product of a natural hazard having an impact on a vulnerable population. But the value of the concept of vulnerability is in danger of becoming less meaningful because it is removed from the political and economic processes that generate some vulnerabilities. On the other hand, there are some types of disasters that are relatively “innocent”, in the sense that people live in places that are exposed to risk for purposes of access to their livelihood, and not because social forces or power relations have forced them to live there, or made some groups more vulnerable than others.


Image of Terry Cannon

Terry Cannon

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Cannon, T.
Disaster Prevention and Management, volume 17, issue 3