The Sociology of Doomsday Preppers: Trading Your “Go”
Pack for a “Bug-Out” Pack in NYC
The study examines the origins and the rise of Doomsday Preppers, the urban survivalist subculture in New York.
Co-authored with Ryan Sperry, the study has three main goals. First, the customs and discourse of the group will be analyzed to discover how urban survivalists view the power of the government and social networks in an apocalyptic world. What defines Doomsday for these urban dwellers? How are their expectations of the responsibilities of government and individuals defined by race, ethnicity, religion, and gender? As public anxieties about a weakened economy and environmental catastrophes have increased, the popularity of survivalist and self-protection has also grown. Therefore, the second goal of this project is to explore how political and environmental crisis have fueled membership in “prepper” groups. Interest in “prepping” for Doomsday has also been driven by popular culture such as television shows, film, and books that depict the struggle to survive in an apocalyptic world. Given the popularity of such texts, the third goal of this project draws on content analysis to examine representations of “preppers” in popular culture.
The Race for Resources: Cancelling the New York City Marathon in
the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
The case study is the examination of local resistance to staging the New York City Marathon following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This research traces the public debate surrounding the Mayor’s decision to continue the marathon despite extensive damage to neighborhoods along the race route (in particular, areas on Staten Island). Initially, it was perceived that New Yorkers would support the Mayor’s decision not to cancel the race because hosting the annual event was a boost to both the city’s morale and to its tourism revenue. However, the Mayor was forced to cancel the race due to public backlash and resistance to the event as the competition for resources grew between residents and tourists. Many New Yorkers were without power, water, and shelter while these same provisions were being supplied for marathon runners. Therefore, this case provides important lessons for exploring two main themes for tourist cities: 1) How should city governments balance the needs of residents and visitors in tourist cities? and 2) What expectations do residents maintain in tourist cities and what strategies of (legal) resistance are used to challenge tourist events?