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The Role of Ethnicity in the Emergency Decision-Making Process

Perry, R.W.; Green, M.R.
Sociological Inquiry

January 9, 2007

Although sociologists have studied for decades the process whereby citizens make emergency decisions in response to disaster warnings, very little attention has been given to understanding the role of ethnicity in this process. Data derived from fatality and injury counts following disasters, though sparse, documents that minority group citizens tend to suffer disproportionately high negative consequences in connection with the impact of disasters. On the basis of this information, it is inferred that differences exist between the emergency decision-making processes of minority and majority citizens. This paper lays the theoretical groundwork for beginning to revise existing conceptual models of warning response behavior to more adequately address the variation associated with minority group status. This goal is accomplished through pursuing three general tasks: (1) examining the process through which personal emergency decisions are made, (2) delineating social factors which impinge upon the outcomes of this decision-making process, and (3) integrating into an existing model of warning response behavior, additional variables which are related to minority status.