Advances in Earth Science ›› 2016, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (9): 907-918. doi: 10.11867/j.issn.1001-8166.2016.09.0907

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Research on Cultural Dimension of Natural Disaster:A Literature Review

Sun Lei, Su Guiwu *   

  1. Division of Earthquake Emergency Response and Disaster Reduction, Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, Beijing 100029, China
  • Received:2016-07-18 Online:2016-09-20 Published:2016-09-20

Sun Lei, Su Guiwu. Research on Cultural Dimension of Natural Disaster:A Literature Review[J]. Advances in Earth Science, 2016, 31(9): 907-918.

Culture provides an important perspective to understand society. It is one of the key factors that impact how people behave themselves, interact with one another, view the world; what they believe and value. Therefore, a good understanding of public disaster awareness and disaster coping is impossible without taking their culture context into consideration. Since the 1960s, cultural dimension in disaster issues and/or disaster reduction practices has been attracting increasingly attention; many empirical or theoretical explorations have been reported. This review aims to give an overview of research progresses on how culture impacts public awareness and coping of disasters, and analyze the corresponding implications for disaster research and disaster reduction practice. This review summarizes that: ①There is unanimous consensus on public awareness and coping of disaster, which are affected by their culture context. While the knowledge about the ways and degree of impact is still limited, further research is warranted. In addition, more systematic and in-depth studies conducted from cross-cultural perspectives are needed to design to further explore the origins of variance in public disaster awareness and coping, and to what extent from cultural differences. ②Research on public awareness of disaster, emergency response and recovery indicated that culture might have double-side impacts on disaster management—sometimes cultural factors such as value, norm, custom and belief might lead to people more vulnerable than the others, even could be the root causes, but they could also be the source of people’s resilience to disaster in some cases. How to identify those positive and negative impacts, then develop cultural-oriented disaster management policy is a challenge issue, which need special attention. ③There is an increasing acknowledgement that local knowledge and disaster subculture could play an important role in public disaster coping, while the lacking of the awareness of the value of local knowledge, the change of lifestyle, and the impact from external culture pose a threat to the inheritance of some local, traditional disaster coping strategies. So exploring how to conserve, protect, identify, document them, then combine them with modern science and technology should and will be the focus of relevant studies. On the bases of these summarizations, in terms of cultural dimension of natural disaster research in China, systematic and in-depth studies are needed to explore how Chinese culture affects public disaster awareness and coping, what cultural resources can be used in disaster (risk) reduction and for building and enhancing disaster resilience, and how to use them.

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