Social Vulnerability
Chris Franklin
EDMG 220 – Emergency Management

Social Vulnerability
Social Vulnerability is the ability of a community to predict, respond to, deal with, and recover from a natural or man-made disaster. In other words, at its basics, social vulnerability is the ability of a person to afford the cost of preparing for, dealing with and recovering from a disaster that causes financial hardship for people and businesses of the community. Social dynamics founded by age, race, gender, nationality, and other social class groups. Social classes are the biggest factors to social vulnerability. The education, employment, income levels, housing construction types, community infrastructure and family structure, medical services are chief components of social vulnerability, that in concert with other marginalizing factors, have an influence on the economic losses, injuries and fatalities from natural and man-made hazards. Race contributes to social vulnerability by the lack of access that a majority of minorities have to resources. Age (senior and infants more vulnerable) and gender (females considered more valuable) play a major role in the way resources are distributed throughout the community.
Positive Effects
The history of a major economic loss has caused Emergency Management Planners to factor in the social vulnerabilities of the community as a major factor in the risk assessment, mitigation measures and recovery operations in place in the region. Planners evaluate the population’s ability to access information, knowledge and technology, access to political representation, the customs and beliefs of the community, conditions and age of the buildings in the region and the condition of the infrastructure; to include sewer pipes as well as electrical and communication lines.
Negative Effects
Without the use of social vulnerability indicators, Planners would not be able to accurately predict the correct place and amounts of resources (food, shelter, medical services) to deploy to areas in the region that need it most. Before the use of social vulnerability indicators, hazard mitigation planning could not adequately predict the needs or adequate meet needs or expectations of all the citizens in the community. For example, the need for temporary housing after a disaster that causes significant damage to population areas that are short hotel, motel, and camping grounds in towns with a shrinking tax base would require residents affect by the disaster to move further away from the economic center of the town.
To handle natural and man-made disasters effectively, planners have to develop a full all-inclusive view of the possible situations that risk the health and well-being of the population in the region. The poor and other marginalized sections of the society which includes women, physically and mentally handicapped persons, infants and the old and aged are the first to lose their access to food, shelter and healthy conditions. These groups need and deserve help from the empowered sections of the society. Planner must gain access or research studies highlight the social vulnerability index of the potential effected areas to empower and ensure that resources are directed to this weaker section of the society.
1. Cutter SL, Boruff BJ, Shirley WL. Social vulnerability to environmental hazards. Social Science Quarterly; 2003, 84(2): 242-261.
2. Singh, Sap., Eghdami, M., ; Singh, Sar. (2014). The Concept of Social Vulnerability: A Review from Disasters Perspectives. Retrieved from ab5f57d0fbc1d62675b03cf3abdc5e7.pdf
3. Dolan, G., Messen, D. (2012, June) Journal of Emergency Management Vol. 10, No. 3, May/June 2012. Retrieved from Vulnerability %20article.pdf

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