Making sense of contemporary disasters: a liquid development perspective

Stephanie Perkiss, Karen Handley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore economic conditions of contemporary society to provide insight into the ways in which the consequences of disaster, including environmental migration, are accentuated. Design/methodology/approach: This research draws on Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity and notions of development to analyse disaster. From the analysis, a new concept, liquid development, is proposed and critiqued as a contributing factor leading to severe contemporary disaster. Findings: Liquid development provides a new way of making sense of the conditions and consequences of economic growth and a business as usual attitude. It further provides a framework to explore the potential disaster of environmental migration in the Pacific Islands arising from liquid development driven climate change-induced sea level rise. Research limitations/implications: Analysing these conditions provides greater understanding of the resulting impact of disaster, creating awareness and informing the need for accountability and social policy. This study aims to contribute to further practical and research enquiry that will challenge liquid developers to reconsider their impact and to accept responsibility for vulnerable members of society as part of their business as usual structure. Originality/value: This paper adds to Bauman’s understanding of the consequences of globalisation through the construct of liquid development. It also continues his debate by giving awareness to the global issue of environmental migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-535
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Issue number9/10
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Globalisation
  • Disaster case study
  • Environmental migration
  • Liquid development
  • Zygmunt Bauman


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