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Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster

Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster (Hardback)

£33.00
To Order. Estimated despatch in 3-5 weeks.
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Synopsis

This text examines actual attempts to "prepare" for catastrophes and finds that the policies adopted by corporations and government agencies are fundamentally rhetorical: the plans have no chance to succeed, yet they serve both the organizations and the public as symbols of control, order and stability. These "fantasy documents" attempt to inspire confidence in organizations, but Lee Clarke suggests that they are disturbing persuasions, soothing the perception that ultimately one cannot control technological advances. For example, Clarke studies corporations' plans for cleaning up oil spills in Prince William Sound prior to the "Exxon Valdez" debacle, and he finds that the accepted strategies were not just unrealistic but completely untenable. Although different organizations were required to have a cleanup plan for huge spills in the sound, a really massive spill was unprecedented, and the accepted policy was little more than a patchwork of guesses based on (mostly unsuccessful) cleanups after smaller accidents. Clarke points out that reassuring rhetoric (under the guise of expert prediction) may have no basis in fact or truth because no such basis is attainable.

In uncovering the dangers of planning when implementation is a fantasy, Clark concludes that society would be safer, smarter, and fairer if organizations could admit their limitations.

History & PoliticsPolitics & governmentHistory & PoliticsPolitics & governmentCentral governmentCentral government policiesPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesSocial issues & processesSocial impact of disastersFaminePhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesSocial welfare & social servicesEmergency services Publisher: The University of Chicago Press Publication Date: 10/05/1999 ISBN-13: 9780226109411  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
Availability: To Order. Estimated despatch in 3-5 weeks.  

Lee Clarke is a sociologist at Rutgers University. He is the author of Acceptable Risk? Making Decisions in a Toxic Environment and coauthor of Organizations, Uncertainties, and Risk.

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