Informal household preparedness. Methodological approaches to everyday practices
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionHeidenstrøm N. Informal household preparedness. Methodological approaches to everyday practices. Journal of Risk Research. 2019:1-19 https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2019.1569106
Despite increasing attention to individuals’ everyday lives in the literature on risk, few studies investigate household preparedness within the everyday life context. Preparedness is most often regarded as a predefined set of capacities for dealing with emergencies. This article presents methodological approaches for studying what I suggest calling informal preparedness activities that are performed as part of daily life in households. Starting with the assumption that everyday life is enacted through culturally and socially shared practices, it is argued that preparedness is interwoven into these practices. Contrary to studying preparedness as the degree to which households are aware of and act according to a formal definition of preparedness, informal household preparedness focuses on preparedness as embedded in the routinised practices that make up everyday life. The study of informal household preparedness is based on three methodological approaches that explore these practices: (i) Performance of everyday practices, where interviews that focus on performance ask questions about what practitioners actually do; (ii) materiality, where walk-alongs are used to connect performance interviews to the material surroundings; and (iii) visualisation, where the material aspects of informal preparedness are documented. These approaches were carried out in a study of Norwegian households’ management of and preparedness for electricity and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure breakdowns. Addressing informal and formal preparedness activities expands our understanding of household preparedness and should help policy makers recognise the active role of households and their actual resources and constraints in future preparedness planning.