Natural Disasters and National Identity

BD West, P Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


This research note builds upon our recent publication in this journal entitled 'Drought, Discourse and Durkheim' (West and Smith 1996). Drawing upon Robert Merton's methodological recommendation that functionalist research should explore possible functional alternatives, we examine discourses surrounding Australian natural disasters other than drought: floods, earthquakes, cyclones and bushfires. The paper identifies three variables that constrain the risk and ritual orientations of natural disaster discourses—time, space and mythology. These variables explain why drought has a unique place among Australian natural disasters as the generator of a national solidaristic narrative.
Translated title of the contributionNatural Disasters and National Identity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205 - 215
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1997


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