Society and Natural Disasters Comparison Essay

A look at the influence of culture on post-disaster relief efforts.
# 150945 | 1,533 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2012 | US
Published on May 15, 2012 in Sociology (Social Work) , Sociology (Theory) , Ethnic Studies (General)

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This paper examines how society and culture can influence a region's ability to resist natural disasters, and that society and culture ought to be considered in post-disaster relief efforts. First, the paper considers how the "Shinto-Buddhist" tradition in Japan has helped that country deal with disaster recovery such as the recent tsunami. In particular, the paper notes the qualities of hard work and orderliness have probably helped Japan mitigate common post-disaster problems such as looting or violence. Then,the paper considers other events in Japanese history in which the country had to rebuild itself. Next, the paper addresses disaster relief in Haiti, contrasting it with Japan's experience. The paper concludes by stating that society and culture are crucial to how different areas of the world respond to disasters.

From the Paper:

"In addition to orderliness, Japan's emphasis on hard work and perseverance has boosted its recovery efforts. Like orderliness, perseverance and hard work are also deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture. In fact, there is even something known as "karoshi", or death by overwork, in Japan. According to one survivor, "there is no screwing around. When we go to work, we work." This element of perseverance can also be seen from Japanese history. After two atomic bombs devastated Japan during World War II, the Japanese were highly resilient, and immediately rose to the challenge of reconstructing and repairing the damage. The Japanese people have "risen from the ashes" in the past, and are used to "getting back on their feet" in order to rebuild a better Japan. As a likely result of the culture's emphasis on perseverance, we see today an immediate response to the disaster, and millions of Japanese diligently at work, trying to recover from the devastation. This current situation in Japan is also somewhat analogous to the flood control system in the Netherlands. According to Wiebe Bijker, a Science & Technology Studies professor, there is a "water culture" in the Netherlands, where the people are unified and heavily committed to keeping the waters out of their land."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Bijker, Wiebe E. "American and Dutch Coastal Engineering: Differences in Risk Conception and Differences in Technological Culture." Social Studies of Science 37 (2007): 143-151.
  • Farmer, Paul. "An Anthropology of Structural Violence." Current Anthropology 45, no. 3 (June 2004): 305-325.
  • Hilgartner, Stephen. "Overflow and Containment in the Aftermath of Disaster." Social Studies of Science 37 (2007): 153-158.
  • Onishi, Noritmitsu & Martin Flackler. "Japanese Officials Ignored or Concealed Dangers" New York Times, May 16, 2011. Accessed May 17, 2011.
  • Onishi, Noritmitsu & James Glanz. "Japanese Rules for Nuclear Plants Relied on Old Science." New York Times, March 26, 2011. Accessed May 10, 2011.

Cite this Comparison Essay:

APA Format

Society and Natural Disasters (2012, May 15) Retrieved February 03, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Society and Natural Disasters" 15 May 2012. Web. 03 February. 2023. <>