Contributions of Technological and Natech Disaster Research to the Social Science Disaster Paradigm

  • Duane A. GillEmail author
  • Liesel A. Ritchie
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


The development of a disaster social science paradigm is explored in this chapter. A disaster paradigm emerged in the years following WWII and came to dominate the field. Relying on theories associated with functionalism, collective behavior, and social organization, this paradigm used case studies, interviews, secondary data analysis, and surveys to address research questions that increasingly focused on preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation activities associated with sudden-onset natural hazards and disasters. Beginning in the 1970s, extreme events in the form of technological disasters presented anomalies to this dominant paradigm and gave rise to alternative perspectives in the study of disasters. These perspectives introduced new concepts, theories, and approaches that are increasingly being incorporated into this disaster social science paradigm. Recognition of “natech” and “techna” hazards and disasters further reveals the social embeddedness of all hazards, risks, and disasters and presents new challenges to this evolving paradigm.


Natech hazards Techna hazards Technological disasters 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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