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Role Conflict and Role Abandonment in Disasters: A Need for Empirical Reorientation

Disaster Research Center
  • Role Conflict
  • Disaster Research
  • Role Abandonement


More than a few observers of disaster research have charged that the field has developed in theoretical isolation from general sociology. Basically, they charge that students of disasters have not utilized established sociological concepts in their analyses and that the potentially beneficial cross polination that could occur between the subfield and the broader discipline has not materialized. For example, in a massive review of the field of disaster research, Mileti, Drabek and Haas conclude with this observation. “Existing studies on behavior in disaster have been conducted… as if no theory existed in the social sciences to provide a basis for the direction of inquiry… The continued heavy reliance on this method, once development of the area has been established to the extent of almost total exclusion of established theory, has been disaster of disaster research.” (1975:146)

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