Contextualizing social vulnerability: findings from case studies across Europe

Kuhlicke, Christian and Scolobig, Anna and Tapsell, Sue M. and Steinfuhrer, Annett and De Marchi, Bruna (2011) Contextualizing social vulnerability: findings from case studies across Europe. Natural Hazards, 58 (2). pp. 789-810. ISSN 0921-030X

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Social vulnerability is a term that has been widely used in the natural hazards literature for quite a few years now. Yet, regardless of how scholars define the term, the approaches and indicators they use remain contested. This article presents findings from social vulnerability assessments conducted in different case studies of flood events in Europe (Germany, Italy and the UK). The case studies relied upon a common set of comparable indicators, but they also adopted a context-sensitive, qualitative approach. A shared finding across the case studies was that it was not possible to identify a common set of socio-economic–demographic indicators to explain social vulnerability of groups and/or individuals for all phases of the disastrous events. Similarly, network-related indicators as well as location- and event-specific indicators did not have the relevance we expected them to have. The results underline that vulnerability is a product of specific spatial, socioeconomic–demographic, cultural and institutional contexts imposing not only specific challenges to cross-country research concerning social vulnerability to flooding but also to attempts at assessing social vulnerability in general. The study ends with some reflections upon the methodological, practical and theoretical implications of our findings.

Item Type:Article
Keywords (uncontrolled):Flood; Social vulnerability assessment; Indicators; Case studies; Europe; Interviews; Focus groups; Qualitative and quantitative methods; Triangulation
Research Areas:A. > School of Science and Technology > Flood Hazard Research Centre
ID Code:9264
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Deposited On:30 Jul 2012 06:28
Last Modified:26 Mar 2015 14:08

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