Analyzing the Social Lead-Up to a Human-Induced Disaster: The Gas Extraction-Earthquake Nexus in Groningen, The Netherlands

Melanie M. Bakema*, Constanza Parra, Philip McCann

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)
    231 Downloads (Pure)


    The overwhelming impact that disasters have on societies is fed by socio-economic vulnerabilities and political-institutional factors. Disasters are, therefore, increasingly regarded as partially created by humans instead of as purely natural events. Although the "social creation" of disasters is assumed to occur "above the ground" and triggered by extreme natural events, this article explores several dimensions to the social creation of disasters, including technological and institutional dimensions from both "above" and "below the ground". It furthers the understanding of disaster governance by investigating processes that generate the social lead-up to a human-induced disaster, and that are installed to deal with its consequences. Focusing on the case of Groningen, the Netherlands, where gas extraction leads to earthquakes, the article looks in particular at the interrelationships between different state and non-state actors in the governance dynamics that structure the processes to deal with the earthquake issues. Based on in-depth interviews with a variety of stakeholders, we found that public-private institutional structures, the nature of the disaster and societal (dis)trust are entangled and influence disaster governance processes mediating resilience and sustainability. The article concludes by arguing that both the causes of (human-induced) disasters and the approaches to disaster mitigation lie in these political-institutional and governance fundaments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3621
    Number of pages20
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-2018


    • socially-created disasters
    • "natech disasters"
    • multi-level governance
    • extractivism
    • sustainability
    • public trust
    • public-private relationships
    • The Netherlands
    • RISK
    • SECTOR
    • MODEL

    Cite this