WHAT IS SOCIAL VULNERABILITY?
The concept of social vulnerability is theoretically framed by a multi-disciplinary litany of case studies and research on specific hazard events, their impacts, and outcomes. Social vulnerability to hazards refers specifically to a lack of ability for individuals and communities to adequately prepare for, respond to, and rebound from environmental hazards. The science of vulnerability is relatively recent, but theoretical links between pre-event socio-economics and general adverse outcomes date back decades. One of the first operational measures of social vulnerability, Maloney’s (1973) Social Vulnerability of Indianapolis linked underlying social characteristics with adverse health outcomes. Subsequently, scholars at the University of South Carolina and the University of Central Florida have driven development of vulnerability science, empirical measurement of social vulnerability, and use of social vulnerability metrics for decision making, planning, and all phases of emergency management practice.