Disasters, Continuity, and the Pathological Normal


  • Ryan Hagen Department of Sociology, Columbia University https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6555-0746
  • Rebecca Elliott Department of Sociology, London School of Economics https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6983-7026




disaster, social change, risk, COVID-19


In this introductory essay to our symposium we argue that “Sociology After COVID-19” needs to center “disaster” itself as an object of study and theory, and that doing so can productively reframe sociology’s fundamental concerns. Building off nascent interdisciplinary work in critical disaster studies, as well as on the insights of our own contributors, we advance and elaborate two theses. First, while disasters are disruptive, they are not purely so; as they unfold, they enfold continuities such that they are best understood as a part of social reality rather than apart from it. Second, disasters are not pathological deviations from “normal” so much as they are the most salient manifestations of the ways that the normal is in fact pathological. A more critical approach to disaster can lead sociologists to examine more closely the interrelationship between the production of continuities and ruptures in social and economic life, enriching our understanding of core disciplinary concerns about social change, stratification, and inequality.


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How to Cite

Hagen, R., & Elliott, R. (2021). Disasters, Continuity, and the Pathological Normal. Sociologica, 15(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.1971-8853/12824



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