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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 126731 Find in a Library
Title: Ethnographic Study of the California Earthquake
Author(s): A F Kuhl; W E Segall
Date Published: Unknown
Page Count: 16
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
Grant Number: SES-9006502
Type: Survey (Cross-Cultural)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using data collected from official sources and in-depth interviews, this paper employs criminological and sociological parameters to study the long and short-term effects of the October 1989 California earthquakes on various populations and communities in San Francisco, Oakland, and Watsonville. The study used methods appropriate to conducting cross-cultural comparative surveys.
Abstract: The findings focus on the earthquake aftershocks, effects on the Bay Area penal system, eyewitness accounts of the actual earthquake, and approaches used by the three communities to deal with the impact of the disaster. According to official reports, the California penal system was not severely affected, suffering no major injuries or structural damage. The immediate impact of the earthquake in San Francisco revolved around personnel coordination, fires, and power outage; the major concern for the city in the short term was coping with displaced residents. A significant long term consequence was illustrated by the socioeconomic problems experienced when lower class residents need to be removed from unsafe buildings. The data suggest that the earthquake was followed by the lowest crime rate in years. Oakland experienced similar immediate and short term consequences of the earthquake. Among the city's long term concerns is identifying resources available for low income housing. In Watsonville, which also experienced major damage to buildings and highways, most of the displaced residents were Hispanic; associated problems arose in the aftermath of the earthquake due to language barriers and illegal aliens' fears of deportation. A shortage of affordable housing as a result of the earthquake could lead to a long term homeless problem. While there was minimal looting in Watsonville, the rate of alcohol consumption and domestic violence increased. Future directions for research should include the role schools play in social control in Hispanic communities, the relationship of criminal behavior by persons who live in social diverse communities that have experienced a natural disaster, and the impact of such disasters on the chronic homeless. (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Cross-cultural comparisons; Disaster procedures
Index Term(s): California; Disaster related crimes; Social control
Note: Presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Baltimore, Maryland, November 1990.
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