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DISASTER BELIEFS AND INSTITUTIONAL INTERESTS: RECYCLING DISASTER MYTHS IN THE AFTERMATH OF 9–11

Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas

ISBN: 978-0-76231-043-2, eISBN: 978-1-84950-227-6

ISSN: 0196-1152

Publication date: 24 October 2003

Abstract

Research evidence developed over more than five decades of research on human responses to disasters shows that those responses are overwhelmingly adaptive and positive. However, despite what is known, myths about disaster behavior persist. These include the assumption that the public will panic during large-scale emergencies and the idea that disasters are best managed through hierarchies of command and control. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, these myths are again gaining wide currency even though actual individual, group, and organizational behavior in the World Trade Center disaster directly contradict those assumptions. This is no accident. Beliefs concerning the fragility of the public in the face of emerging homeland security threats are consistent with the perspectives and objectives of organizations that seek to expand their influence in the domestic crisis management arena. These organizational actors, which include the information technology industry, the intelligence and defense establishment, and security think tanks, are generally not familiar with empirical social science research on behavior during disasters and see little value in public participation in the management of newly-recognized threats. Recycled disaster myths support a case for “expertise-based” crisis planning that excludes the public from those activities.

Citation

Tierney, K. (2003), "DISASTER BELIEFS AND INSTITUTIONAL INTERESTS: RECYCLING DISASTER MYTHS IN THE AFTERMATH OF 9–11", Clarke, L. (Ed.) Terrorism and Disaster: New Threats, New Ideas (Research in Social Problems and Public Policy, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 33-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0196-1152(03)11004-6

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2003, Emerald Group Publishing Limited