'I’m big you’re small, I’m right you’re wrong': the influence of gender and generation on migrant response to flood risk in England

Riyait, Simrat Kaur (2016) 'I’m big you’re small, I’m right you’re wrong': the influence of gender and generation on migrant response to flood risk in England. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This research focused on migrants in England and their perceptions of and response to flood risk. Robertson (2004) found ethnic minority groups with flood experience abroad had lower risk perceptions in the UK, which negatively affected their engagement with risk communication. Studies also indicated weak intergenerational transmission of risk attitudes between migrant generations (Bonin et al. 2010). This had not been explored in relation to South Asian migrants, their risk perceptions and response to flood risk in England and whether there is intergenerational transmission of flood risk perceptions and indigenous flood knowledge or whether this is gendered. The impact of and response to disasters may be gendered due to the enforcement of social and gender roles within ethnic communities in the developing world (Bradshaw, 2013). This had not been explored in relation to how these issues may affect the practical response to flooding in England.

This research aimed to address these gaps in the literature and explored how the different aspects of an individual’s identity such as being a migrant, being a first or second generation migrant and their gender influenced their understanding of and response to flood risk and knowledge in England. The research applied an intersectional lens to explore how flood risk is understood, communicated and acted upon. Quantitative research methods were used to identify flood prone locations with diverse migrant communities. The study locations selected were Perry Barr, Birmingham and Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury. Questionnaire surveys were conducted to locate and recruit participants and provide an indication of issues to be explored further in the main qualitative research which involved one to one interviews.

The research found first generation migrants with flood experience abroad perceived flooding in England as a ‘bit of water’ and did not take flood risk or response seriously. Although the interviews were about floods and risk, what emerged as a ‘risk’ and a concern amongst South Asian migrants was not physical risks such as flooding but wider social processes as risk, in particular the westernisation of women. Thus floods in the context of this research revealed wider social and communication issues (Enarson & Morrow, 1998). The perceived risk of westernisation to the honour of the family meant a subsequent enforcement of gender norms under patriarchal control and this influenced whether women had a voice in the home. An acculturation gap led to intergenerational conflict and the devaluation of knowledge amongst generations.

The revelation of these wider issues provided an insight into the intergenerational communication of flood risk and knowledge, and how individuals could and could not respond to flood risk. First generation, uneducated women are dependent on men in a flood event, whilst educated migrant women have the power to advise their family. Educated adolescent women are bounded by their gender and age, and although they have knowledge on flood risk response, conflict limits their communication with grandparents who do not value their opinion. The study found there is intergenerational communication about flood experiences abroad, however, perceptions of flood risk are not transmitted intergenerationally. Instead the flood risk perceptions of second generation migrants are influenced by inter and intra generational communication about flood experiences in England, because although second generation migrants listen to their elders about flood risk, they believe their experience and knowledge from abroad to be irrelevant in the UK.

The intersectional lens focusing on migrants, generations and gender and how they intersect in the flood risk context provides a new insight into the complexity of how flood risk and knowledge may be constructed and transmitted. These findings contribute to knowledge on flood risk and perceptions of risk and are important as migrant numbers and ethnic diversity in England continue to grow along with flood frequency, potentially increasing the number of individuals vulnerable to flooding.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
A. > School of Science and Technology > Flood Hazard Research Centre
B. > Theses
Item ID: 21173
Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2017 10:45
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:47
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/21173

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