Original Research - Special Collection: Framing and modelling disaster risk

Reflections from PEARL for an era of systemic risks, uncertain futures and complex governance

Arabella Fraser
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 15, No 1 | a1485 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v15i1.1485 | © 2023 Arabella Fraser | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 February 2023 | Published: 30 October 2023

About the author(s)

Arabella Fraser, Department of Development Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Open University, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom


Reflecting on the root cause framework devised for the research project preparing for extreme and rare events in coastal regions (PEARL) between 2014 and 2018 suggests a growing and evolving landscape of work building on the initial Pressure and Release (PAR) model. Empirical work using the PEARL framework added to debates about the nature, role and importance of institutions in the cross-scale interactions that drive disaster risk, even for small-scale disaster events. Going forward, its use opened up questions about our epistemologies and methodologies for root causes research in an era of systemic risk, uncertain futures and complex governance, and about tackling the layers of politics that can preclude action on reducing vulnerabilities.

Contribution: The article suggests a new – and pluralised – agenda for root causes research going forward, which needs to be linked to critical understandings of the politics of root causes across disaster management and development actors and further action to reduce vulnerabilities.


disaster causation; systemic risks; governance; complexity; politics


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