Examining perceptions of luck in post-bushfire sense-making in Australia



Publication Details

Eriksen, C. & Wilkinson, C. (2017). Examining perceptions of luck in post-bushfire sense-making in Australia. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 24 242-250.


This paper explores how people in southeast Australia impacted by bushfire make sense of such threatening experiences. It focuses on three post-fire studies of residents affected by bushfire to a point where the fire threat was imminent, and where perceptions of luck was an emergent, yet pivotal, theme during interviews in explaining outcomes of the events. Despite differences in the severity of residents¿ experiences in terms of exposure, duration, and loss of life and property, narratives of luck were common across the interviews. The study results both enforce and challenge dominant paradigms of luck as something that is simultaneously "external" and "out of control". Using trust, hope and agency as axes of analysis, we argue that it is the act of infusing personal agency with the energy of trust and hope that is often expressed as "luck" in post-event sense-making. This enables many residents to be forward-looking, and for the threat to be a transformative experience. It also provides opportunity for enhanced dialogue on risk communication.

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