Due to different definitions used in disaster-related literature, for the purpose of this Toolkit the main terms used are defined below. The full Glossary can also be downloaded in a .pdf format (see User Guide Section).
Societal and/or political mechanisms or processes that regulate individual and group behaviour, aiming to achieve conformity and compliance to the rules of a given society or group. Social control can be enforced using formal or informal sanctions, the latter comprising, e.g., shame, ridicule, sarcasm, criticism or disapproval.
Positive effect: Strong social control/strong regulation may facilitate awareness of and compliance with disaster management rules.
Negative effect: At certain stages of disaster management (in particular in the response phase) it may be necessary to go beyond these rules and benefit from the activism of everybody. A strong social control/strong regulation may not be helpful in such context.
Social exclusion involves the lack or denial of resources, rights, goods and services, and the inability to participate in relationships and activities that are normally available to the majority of people in a society or group.
Social exclusion/lack of social integration due to recent migration: Asylum seekers who have not yet an approved visa (or that are approved on a formal basis but not integrated in the receiving community) may not be allowed to work and, therefore, cannot gain the financial means to settle in a local community, and they may first need to learn the local language to participate in education activities and understand local hazards and procedures in case of a disaster.
Social exclusion of stigmatised groups: Members of stigmatised groups, e.g. (in some societies) gay or transgender people, may not gain access to neighbourhood networks which, in case of a disaster, can also function as information networks.
Networks of social interactions and personal relationships. They can comprise, e.g., family networks, neighbourhood networks or professional networks, they are characterized by their extent, density and stability, and they can be physical and/or virtual (online social networks).
Dense social networks are commonly understood to be advantageous in disaster situations as they facilitate mutual support. For example, research suggests that online social networks may also provide a basis for support networks in disaster situations, albeit subordinate to, e.g., family networks. Dense social networks can be seen as an “indicator” of social cohesion, and disaster management is easier in a community with strong rather than weak social cohesion.
Socioeconomic status is conceptualised as the social standing or “class” of an individual or group. It is often measured as a combination of education level, income and occupation.
Education level: may impact an individual’s capability to understand complex hazard information and to play an active role in disaster management.
Income: Some disaster preparedness measures, e.g. training courses for the general public, may not reach out to people with a low income, because they cannot afford the time to participate as they need it for generating sufficient income (often by working in several and/or after-hour jobs).
Occupation: Individuals or groups who work in isolated or noisy workplaces may be vulnerable because they do not receive, or simply do not hear, alerts.