What are the “preppers” preparing for? – Ars Technica

Here is a photo of various emergency supplies isolated on a white background.
Expanding / For preppers, this is painful.

“Preparing,” or preparing to live without social support, seems to be a largely American activity, and a recent activity. It has grown revenues by about 700% in 10 years and has prepper products at locations like Costco, Kmart and Bed Bath & Beyond. .

However, it is not entirely clear what is driving this growth. Why are more people preparing for social collapse? Some explanations focus on the paranoid tendencies of American society and the fear of terrorism and natural disasters. However, the actual evidence directly supporting either of these ideas as the primary reason is very sparse.

So Michael Mills from the University of Kent in the UK decided to fix this gap in our knowledge. , dismantling animals. Mills suggests that preppers are motivated more by constant media coverage of natural disasters and governments encouraging them to prepare for the worst, rather than by pervasive paranoia.

sum of all fears

For as long as preppers have existed, the common image of a prepper is someone preparing for the collapse of society, at which point money and power grids and everything that depends on them will be unavailable. Preppers are ready to purify and drink water, hunt and eat meat, and possibly scare anyone who tries to get a piece of post-apocalyptic bliss by shooting. may be included.

But that image is fueled by the biggest route the public has for getting to know preppers. Doomsday Preppers, Aired on the National Geographic Channel. (The show has also permeated the academic literature, as Mills cites studies that analyzed the psychology of those who appeared on the show.) Although Mills does not explicitly state that, the exact cross-section It’s natural to wonder if you can get a figure out of the prepper community purely from looking at people chosen to appear on shows based on whether they’ll be good TV shows.

To find out, Mills placed ads on several popular prepper websites, recruited buddies, and launched expeditions. His goal was not a quantitative investigation. It was mostly ethnography, talking to people, spending time with them, and seeing if there were commonalities in their way of thinking. Note that regardless of how popular these prepper sites are, they probably won’t create a complete cross-section of the prepper community, nor will they select people based on their willingness to talk to researchers. is important. That said, you can probably get more information than choosing a good TV.

In fact, one of the subjects specifically told Mills: [National Geographic’s] doomsday preppersThey weren’t preparing for the total collapse of society. They were preparing to deal with a localized collapse of service that could last for months.It’s not Armageddon, it’s Hurricane Irma. But since then, setting aside months without critical service suggests that you may be grossly underestimating the need. ”

Another important difference was that the preparers did not have specific expectations for the particular disaster that was likely to occur. Some of them lived in flood-prone areas but constantly mentioned additional threats such as terrorism and new disease outbreaks. It didn’t create a sense of absence. Preparation was more of a precautionary activity. As Mills concluded, “their concerns tend to emerge in response to a number of disaster risks that are widely reported and perceived by the broader American culture.”

media and government

Few areas in the country are free from the risk of natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes, and terrorism and disease outbreaks can occur almost anywhere. So what drives some people to respond to these risks by being prepared without both private and government services and some kind of emergency support?

One factor Mills argues is that the organization responsible for coordinating that emergency assistance has told them they should be prepared to cope without emergency assistance. Citing previous research, Mills said, “Federal agencies have recently encouraged American citizens to think about surviving disasters without their own help.” Since 2003, a group within the Department of Homeland Security has warned people to “protect their homes from (unprecedented) chemical terrorism attacks by using a ‘safe room’, I have been advocating that I have duct tape and vinyl sheets on hand.

A second motivation comes from the media, which tend to constantly report on natural disasters and their aftermath. According to Mills, nearly all subjects mentioned Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, or both. Mills’ expedition took place in his 2014, and both Ebola and his ISIS appeared frequently in the risks mentioned by the preparers (maybe even today).

His conclusion is that preppers are responding to what they hear. In other words, readiness may be an unusual response to the challenges everyone faces when trying to communicate risk to the public, but it’s not a distinct phenomenon, it’s a range of reactions.

As Mills points out, it still leaves some important questions. For example, why is the response so widespread in the United States, why are so many Americans facing the same risks and unable to even store a jug or pack? go bag.

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