Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The relationship between risk perceptions and responses in disaster-prone cities of the Global South
Author: Sou, Gemma
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 1336
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This research takes a social constructivist approach to investigate the relationship between people’s perceptions of disaster risk and their responses in disaster-prone cities of the Global South. This is important because the effects of risk perceptions on the ways that people respond to disaster risk remains unclear and has been labelled ‘weak’ within the disaster studies literature. Furthermore, this lack of clarity has contributed to the marginalisation of people at risk from contributing to interventions that address disaster risk, which this research finds problematic. Therefore, a better understanding of how people perceive their risk and how this shapes their responses would help inform more effective and multi-scalar interventions to address disaster risk. The research takes place in three adjacent neighbourhoods of Cochabamba city, Bolivia. Within this ‘case site’, the house is used as a methodological tool to investigate how people’s risk perceptions shape their responses to disaster risk. In particular, the research explores how risk perceptions influence the way people design and construct self-build houses in order to reduce their risk of a disaster. The focus on housing construction represents a novel way of exploring the relationship between risk perceptions and disaster risk-reduction behaviour. The research takes place in the context of persistent, low-intensity natural hazards that are linked to disaster risk which incrementally increases over time. This marks a shift away from the many studies that investigate rapid-onset, extreme hazards that quickly overwhelm people’s capabilities and which are associated with crisis and urgency. Additionally, the research is concerned with small-scale disasters, which again marks a shift away from the disaster studies literature which principally focuses on large-scale disasters that result in many casualties, large economic loss and which affect a large geographical area. The research ultimately shows that whether a risk perception is high or low is not the most important factor; rather, it is an individual’s awareness and understanding of disaster risk that encourages long-term and anticipatory strategies that require significant investments in the house. Furthermore, the research argues that research which describes the relationship between risk perceptions and responses as ‘weak’ forecloses the nuances and complexity of human behaviour in disaster-prone contexts because it does not capture the subtle yet important ways that risk perceptions shape responses.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Risk perception ; Disasters ; Disaster risk ; Self-build housing ; Global South ; Urban ; Bolivia ; Vulnerability