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Get prepared: Discourse for the privileged?

Blake D, Marlowe J, Johnston D. 2017. Get prepared: discourse for the privileged? International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction. 25:283-288. doi:10.1016/j.ijdrr.2017.09.012.


Being prepared for a disaster is an important strategy for reducing physical, social, psychological and cultural harm. Preparedness practices lessen the immediate impacts of a disaster while also enabling people to respond to and cope with any ongoing consequences. However, not all people have the ability to prepare. This paper queries how promoting preparedness affects people without the financial means, capacity, or support to prepare. This research sees preparedness within a neoliberal system preoccupied with risk management as an economic cost reducing exercise. It highlights that without the ability to feel safe and achieve real security in a disaster, people can experience instability and compromised mental health. It questions disaster preparedness texts that produce a form of structural violence, privileging the ability to do anything about it to some and denying it to others. Government documents and preparedness websites from Aotearoa/New Zealand are outlined to show where vulnerable groups are frequently ignored. The role of research in preparedness activities is also discussed. People working in the emergency management space should contest the socio-political conditions that produce increased risk for disadvantaged groups.

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