At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability, and Disasters

By Ben Wisner; Piers Blaikie et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project



Access to resources-an introduction

In the last chapter, we argued that disasters occur as the result of the impact of hazards on vulnerable people. We suggest two frameworks for explaining this relationship between natural events and the social processes that generate unsafe conditions. The first is the Pressure and Release (PAR) model, which shows in diagrammatic terms how the causes of vulnerability can be traced back from unsafe conditions, through economic and social ('dynamic') pressures, to underlying root causes. PAR is an organising framework outlining a hierarchy of causal factors that together constitute the pre-conditions for a disaster. We can also describe this as a pathway, 'progression of vulnerability' or 'chain of causation'. It is a sequence of factors and processes that leads us from the disaster event and its proximate causes back to ever more distant factors and processes that initially may seem to have little to do with causing the disaster. The 'Release' aspect arises from the realisation that to release the pressure that causes disasters, the entire chain of causation needs to be addressed right back to the root causes, and not just the proximate causes or triggers of the hazard itself or the unsafe conditions of vulnerability.

But the PAR model does not provide a detailed and theoretically informed analysis of the precise interactions of environment and society at the 'pressure point', at the point where and when the disaster starts to unfold. Firstly, any analysis of a disaster must explain differential vulnerability to, and the impacts of, a disaster-why wealthier people often suffer less, and why women and children may face different (and sometimes more damaging) outcomes than men and adults. Particular groups, defined by ethnicity, class, occupation, location of work or domicile may suffer differentially from others. In these senses, the Access model focuses on the precise detail of what happens at the pressure point between the natural event and longer-term social processes, and, to signify this in visual terms, a magnifying glass is drawn on the PAR model (Figure 2.1).

Secondly, the PAR framework is essentially static, and without a series of iterations through the trajectory of a disaster, it cannot suggest nor account


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability, and Disasters


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 472

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?