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Assessing disaster capitalism in post-disaster processes in Chile: neoliberal reforms and the role of the corporate class

Vicente Sandoval ( Extreme Events Institute , Florida International University , Miami, Florida, USA) ( Disaster Research Unit , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin, Germany)
Claudia Gonzalez-Muzzio ( Ambito Consultores Ltda. , Santiago, Chile)
Carlos Villalobos ( Universidad de Talca , Talca, Chile)
Juan Pablo Sarmiento ( Extreme Events Institute , Florida International University , Miami, Florida, USA)
Gabriela Hoberman ( Extreme Events Institute , Florida International University , Miami, Florida, USA)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 10 July 2020

Issue publication date: 30 November 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines disaster capitalism in Chile, that is, the relationships between disasters and neoliberalism. It looks at two post-disaster dimensions: disasters as windows of opportunity to introduce political reforms and disasters as occasions for the corporate class to capitalize on such disasters.

Design/methodology/approach

Two indices, disaster capitalism (DC) and post-disaster private involvement (PDPI), are proposed for cross-case analysis. They are based on legal records, institutional reports and economic data. The DC assesses the introduction of reforms following disasters, while PDPI evaluates the share of public-private funding used for recovery. Both indices are applied here to two disasters in Chile: the 2010 Maule earthquake, and the 2008 Chaitén volcanic eruption.

Findings

Results show that the highly neoliberal Chilean context leaves limited space for new neoliberal reforms. Although recovery is implemented predominantly through the private sector, the state still assumes greater responsibility for recovery costs. Results also detect poor levels of participation from the private sector in accounting their efforts and making them publicly available. Likewise, the research suggests that neoliberal reforms become more likely after disasters. However, the preexisting politico-economic context matters. Finally, there is clearly a need for data systematization in post-disaster recovery.

Originality/value

In the Chilean context, the indices proved beneficial as a strategy for data collection and a method for scrutinizing the implications of neoliberal policy implemented in the wake of disasters, as well as in evaluating the role of the corporate class during recovery.

Keywords

Citation

Sandoval, V., Gonzalez-Muzzio, C., Villalobos, C., Sarmiento, J.P. and Hoberman, G. (2020), "Assessing disaster capitalism in post-disaster processes in Chile: neoliberal reforms and the role of the corporate class", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 29 No. 6, pp. 831-847. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-01-2020-0005

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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