Introduction: Disasters as Politics – Politics as Disasters

Guggenheim, Michael. 2014. Introduction: Disasters as Politics – Politics as Disasters. Sociological Review, 62(S1), pp. 1-16. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

What is the relationship between politics and disasters and how does this relate to the recent boom in disaster studies? The introduction to this volume argues that the recent interest in disasters is not because there are more disasters, but because of two recent developments within the social sciences: first, a focus on rupture rather than on continuity and second, a focus on materiality. Disasters are the intersection of these changes. Disasters are ruptures of society and thus inherently political. They provide a particular kind of rupture, one which does not simply affect values and norms, but the material backup of society and its material infrastructure. From this starting point, the article discusses two movements of how to relate disasters and politics: disasters as producing politics and politics as producing disasters. The former begins with disasters and considers how they acquire the power to recompose the world. Disasters from this point of view not only produce politics, but a particular kind of (cosmo-)politics that deals with how humans relate to technology and nature. The latter begins with politics and considers how politics produces disasters. Here, as for example in preparedness, risk assessment and state of exception, politics is the productive force and disasters become means to legitimate, produce and arrive at certain politics.

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Funder information: European Research Council starting grant. Grant Number: GA 263731 OD

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1 June 2014Published
18 March 2014Published Online

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12 Jan 2015 09:19

Last Modified:

21 Apr 2021 14:39

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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