The Security–Business Nexus
Edited by Gabriele G.S. Suder
Chapter 12: Disaster Management after September 11: A ‘Normal Accident’ or a ‘Man-made Disaster?’ What Did We Know, What Have We Learned?
12. Disaster management after September 11: a ‘normal accident’ or a ‘man-made disaster’? What did we know, what have we learned? David H. Weir INTRODUCTION It has almost become a commonplace that after the events of September 11, the world will never be the same again. The date has become iconic, evoking instant recognition in many contexts, though not in Chile where the date symbolizes for most people the coup d’état in 1973 of General Pinochet with US backing against the elected government of President Allende, leading to his assassination. Nonetheless, these are strong claims: are they justiﬁed? Have the responses of the world community been commensurate with this discourse? What has changed and are such events now more or less likely in the future? In some senses, for students of disasters, such catastrophic events are not so unusual and by some criteria it is arguable that September 11 was quite a ‘normal’ disaster. It was predictable and it was predicted: it aﬀected a relatively circumscribed and limited group of people, and its etiology is not in doubt. We shall argue that there is extant research and conventionally accepted patterns of explanation within the scientiﬁc community which can assist in the work of interpretation 12.1 NORMAL ACCIDENTS The term ‘normal accident’ was ﬁrst coined by Charles Perrow in 1984 to deﬁne a type of occurrence which may be system-induced in the sense that it is an inevitable outcome, at some time or other, of the...
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