Systems fragility: the sociology of chaos
Hodges, Lori R.
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This thesis seeks to examine the concept of community fragility in emergency management from a systems perspective. Two questions are studied. First, can community fragility be qualitatively measured? Second, does this concept hold value for the emergency management field? Using literature that addresses fragility in four areas of complex systems—ecosystems, social systems, socio-technical systems, and complex adaptive systems—we create a theoretical framework focused on the emergency management field. This theoretical framework is then assessed through a multi-case analysis, examining three diverse large-scale events that have occurred in the United States in the past decade. Assessing each fragility factor from the theoretical framework for each case study reveals that the framework is sound. These findings allow for the development of a causal prediction model illustrating how community fragility factors can be used in the emergency management field to not only improve overall outcomes after disaster, but to also build less fragile systems and communities in preparation for future disasters.
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