Teresa Kramarz: Environmental Shocks and Responses – A Typology of Vulnerability Profiles

There is widespread recognition that environmental disasters disproportionately affect the poor in developing countries, yet certain kinds of violence also strip white, middle class communities in industrialized countries of vital resources to respond. Social vulnerability as a mutually constitutive relationship between distinct types of shocks and capacities to respond requires further research.  I explore how the temporal dimension of shocks creates different types of structural risks, and articulate how these interact with the agency of affected communities.  This conceptual article proceeds in three steps.  The first deals with the structural conditions that shape environmental shocks, the second examines the agency of individuals and communities, the third analyzes the relationship between the nature of risks and capacities for response. This generates a typology of vulnerability profiles characterized by distinct types of political responses for recovery.  This framework can explain why some disasters are bound to continue to repeat themselves and spiral into ever more devastating events.

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