Disaster Research: Exploring Sociological Approach to Disaster in Bangladesh


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Disasters are annual events in Bangladesh. These disasters range from ravaging tornadoes to devastating floods. Of all the disasters the problem of flood has aggravated most from 1955 to 2004 and become one of the main concerns of people in Bangladesh. Abnormal floods submerge about 60 percent of the land, damage crops, property; disrupt economic activities and cause diseases and loss of life. Similarly, cyclones, which are sometimes accompanied by storm and tidal surge, pose multiple threats to human society along with erosion of soils, riverbank and coasts. Surge water creates salinity problem in the coastal belts. Consequently, cyclones are very destructive of property and people and disruptive of economic activities. Another hazard, drought, affects the standing crops, water supplies and plant growth leading to loss of productions, food shortages and famine. (Nasreen and Hossain, 2002). Arsenic, a toxic element and a silent disaster, is teaching a bitter lesson to humankind, particularly to those in Bangladesh who have been suffering from arsenicosis. The excessive level of the presence of arsenic in drinking water is redefining water from ‘life saver’ to a ‘threat’ to human survival. Because it takes 10 to 20 years, depending on the amount of arsenic accumulated in the body, to be identified as arsenic patient, people’s response to the disease is not so prompt. Because of its severity and frequent occurrence, floods have attracted wide attention and are well documented by the researchers. However, sociological research on disasters, even on flood, is scant in Bangladesh.

In this paper an attempt has been made to explore what research has been done to address disasters in Bangladesh and to what extent disasters are highlighted from social perspective? The paper, in the process, also tries to define disaster and identify approaches to disaster research. The paper looks at the major works completed on disaster from various approaches. It has been argued that application of sociological approach to disaster research is very limited.

  • Publisher: Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology
  • Author(s): Mahbuba Nasreen
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