When disaster strikes, a ritual unfolds: a flood of experts, bureaucrats, and analysts rush to the scene; personal tragedies are played out in a barrage of media coverage; on the ground, confusion and uncertainty reign. In this major comparative study, Gregory Button draws on three decades of research on the most infamous human and environmental calamities to break new ground in our understanding of these moments of chaos. He explains how corporations, state agencies, social advocacy organizations, and other actors attempt to control disaster narratives, adopting public relations strategies that may either downplay or amplify a sense of uncertainty in order to advance political and policy goals. Importantly, he shows that disasters are not isolated events, offering a holistic account of the political dynamics of uncertainty in times of calamity.
Brand: Left Coast Press
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In the introduction of Disaster Culture, the author makes it clear that his primary concern is the "production of uncertainty as an ideological tactic" by government agencies, corporations and independent (and some not so independent) civic organizations, in the context of disasters (16). Button insists that the enormous amount of uncertainty experienced by the victims of disasters and many others concerned is not just a minor aspect. It is not "some free-floating anxiety whose pursuit is fruitless and threatens to undermine rational discourse". The phenomenon is a lived experience and can be explored through an ethnographic methodology, in which Button is trained as an anthropologist, which will yield a coherent, meaningful, contextualized understanding of the socially constructed nature of uncertainty. Furthermore, based on that understanding, there exists the possibility to challenge dominant narratives about disasters and formulate alternative ways to deal with...
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