Processes of vulnerability in England? Place, poverty and susceptibility

James Lewis (Datum International, Marshfield, UK)
Sarah A.V. Lewis (Independent Research, Marshfield, UK)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Publication date: 28 October 2014



The purpose of this paper is to emphasise how vulnerability is not only “place-based” and to explore by example how vulnerability to hazards in England may comprise additional economic, social and psychological contributors to poverty. The mutuality of poverty and vulnerability is demonstrated, as are examples of susceptibility of the vulnerable to stigmatic disregard and cruelty.


“Place-based” vulnerability is exemplified by coastal vulnerabilities and causes of their increase. Poverty and its causes are explained, followed by examples of possible contributors, indicators and consequences in incomes, living costs and debt; housing welfare and homelessness; food, nutrition, health and mental ill-health. Susceptibility to stigmatic behaviours exacerbate personal vulnerabilities.


Dynamics of mutual inter-relationships between poverty and vulnerability are demonstrated. Behavioural responses to either condition by individuals and by society at large, to which those who are vulnerable or in poverty are susceptible, are described in the present and from history.

Research limitations/implications

Findings form a “theoretical reality” upon which some measures may follow. An additional need is identified for long-term social field research to follow adults’ and childrens’ experiences, and consequences of poverty in vulnerable situations.

Practical implications

Vulnerability accrues irrevocably between disasters, the results of which may be exposed by disaster impacts.

Social implications

Recognition of linkages between economic and social vulnerability and disasters is essential for subsequent action to reduce the impact of disasters upon society.


Though vulnerability has been explored for many years, the dynamics of its contributing processes require further explanation before their wider comprehension is achieved.



Lewis, J. and A.V. Lewis, S. (2014), "Processes of vulnerability in England? Place, poverty and susceptibility", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 23 No. 5, pp. 586-609.

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