July, 2021

Understanding Disasters

Questions Should Drive Methods and Other Interdisciplinary Lessons
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Understanding disasters requires relying on theories from multiple disciplines and deploying multiple empirical strategies. Indeed, the field of disaster studies is a ripe example of an interdisciplinary and mixed-methods approach. Yet, like much of academia, individual scholars often stay within their disciplinary silos and attached to particular methods. Amy R. Poteete, Marco A. Janssen, and Elinor Ostrom (2010), in “Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice,” discuss the potential and challenges of mixed methods and collaboration between scholars pursuing different methods. In this chapter, we utilize their framework to argue that disaster studies benefit from mixed methods and collaboration. The questions central to understanding disasters and how communities recover from them drives the need for a variety of methods, formal to informal and quantitative to qualitative. The field, if it is to remain vibrant, must embrace multiple disciplines and multiple methods.