Dissertation Abstracts

Perceptions and practices of flood management: Flood risk governance in High River, Alberta following the 2013 floods

Author: Eva A Bogdan, eabogdanrc@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: University of Alberta, Canada
Supervisor: Ken Cain and Mary Beckie
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Flood risk governance , Stakeholder engagement , Decision-making , Assessment framework
Areas of Research: Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty , Regional and Urban Development , Environment and Society


Flooding is Canada’s most common and costly hazard, and its impacts are expected to increase as the climate changes. There has been considerable focus on scientific and technical solutions to flooding, but these alone are insufficient. Flooding is a wicked problem, in that its causes and consequences are embedded in complex sociopolitical contexts involving diverse stakeholders with conflicting interests. The sociopolitical dimensions that shape how we think about (frame) and approach flooding need to be incorporated, but these to date have been underexamined in Alberta. This doctoral research focuses on flood risk governance by examining how perceptions, policies, and practices are shaped by sociopolitical factors and how these change over time. I conduct a case study of the Town of High River, the community hardest hit by the 2013 Alberta floods, and analyse the case through social practices lens and framing analysis. While I focus on the Town of High River, disaster governance is embedded in all three levels of government, is distributed across society, and is nested in multiple governance systems. Qualitative interviews and policy analysis shed light on how decisions were made and implemented, and the interactions between stakeholders, which resulted in systemic issues in land-use planning and building regulations that increased the vulnerability of the community to flooding disasters.

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