Are You Ready For It? Examining Security in Contemporary Disaster Preparedness, From Normal to Noachian

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Is it normal for households to go to extreme lengths to prepare for disaster? I argue yes. Extreme preparedness is at the very least logical and can be considered normal under the right framing. Threats range from the mundane to the existential and come in various forms: chlorine gas spills, zoonotic diseases, typhoons, solar flares, civil unrest, and war. Response and recovery to these assorted hazards is measured in hours, days, and sometimes years. It is an expected function of a state to plan, rehearse, and prepare for cataclysmic events. Numerous governments currently encourage or even mandate relatively high levels of household disaster preparedness or have done so in the past as a proactive mitigation strategy. By extension then, it should be natural for individuals and households to attain – or even surpass – these levels. Those who go to extreme levels have throughout the years been referred to as survivalists or preppers even though their actions often match state plans for continuity of government in an existential crisis. Contrary to popular depiction however, many of these individuals are not fringe as to ideology or demographic composition, nor are they monoculture. Our modern understanding of this phenomenon is hampered by stereotype, a lack of quantification, and a lack of definitive categorization and theorization. I fill in many of the gaps of a forty-year legacy problem, primarily in an American setting, but with insights to the global presence of these individuals. I find that in America, 11.4 million people have the means to survive at home for 31 days or more after a disaster. Additionally, I theorize a new international model, with the theory of ontological security at its core, to understand how extremely prepared individuals can be identified and then split into extremist and non-extremist (ideologically speaking) categories and how both groups relate back to average civilians. I provide one implication of this finding looking at US island residents, who I find prepare at rates 40-135% greater than their mainland counterparts, possibly due to their geographic isolation where aid and recovery efforts would be delayed.

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285 pages


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Disaster Preparedness; Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Human Security; Preppers


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Kreps, Sarah

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Kriner, Douglas L.
Garcia-Rios, Sergio I.

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Ph. D., Government

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International


dissertation or thesis

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