Research Example #6

Cannon, Terry (2008) : Reducing people’s vulnerability to natural hazards communities and resilience, WIDER Research Paper, No. 2008/34, The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), Helsinki.

This research paper from 2008 explores the concepts of vulnerability, community, and resilience in the context of natural hazards and disasters. The importance of these concepts are discussed individually as well as when they are combined. This paper seeks to get to the root of each concept as a way to better understand and prepare for processes of natural disaster. The author, Terry Cannon, points to the ways such concepts are misunderstood and the necessity for understanding the underlying contributing factors to what has been generalized as “vulnerability”. Cannon’s research has a preliminary focus on community capacity, capability, and vulnerability prior to disasters in order to better understand how to strategize during and after natural disasters. Cannon states, “There is the danger that outsiders, impressed by the mere fact of survival, romanticize the virtues of resilience. The task surely is not to marvel at this, but to create the conditions that make coping unnecessary and resilience much more than a return to vulnerability.” (1) Cannon’s research faces concepts of exploitation by addressing all factors, not just those that are visible within afflicted communities. This is helpful in my research design as the majority of the research revolves around the exploitation of vulnerable communities. In reading this research, my question still stands, but from looking at the research through what Cannon calls a framework of capacity and vulnerability analysis, I can avoid misconceptions and generalizations about the communities in which my topic is centered.

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