What Disaster Response Management Can Learn From Chaos Theory

Conference Proceedings
May 18-19, 1995

Edited by
Gus A. Koehler, PhD.

Return to table of contents


SELF ORGANIZING PROCESSES IN DISASTER: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF RESPONSE SYSTEMS FOLLOWING THE 1993 MARATHWADA, INDIA AND 1995 HANSHIN, JAPAN EARTHQUAKES

Louise K. Comfort
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
University of Pittsburgh



Disaster as a Mechanism of Transition in Complex, Social Systems

Historically, disasters have been regarded as intensely destructive events that occur rarely and can only be explained as "acts of God." Historical record, however, reveals disasters to be recurring phenomena that test the fitness of the existing designed environment to its natural, physical conditions. The record also shows the incidence of reported disasters to be increasing in the world, with a mounting toll in lives and resources. Rather than isolated, freak events, disasters appear to be the direct manifestation of the growing interdependence of our technical and social systems (Perrow, 1984), and simultaneously, our lack of conscious efforts to adapt these systems more effectively to the constraints and risks of the natural environment.

Next Chapter: SELF ORGANIZING PROCESSES IN DISASTER

Return to table of contents