Tuesday, October 21, 2014

National Drought Mitigation Center

Social Scientists

Social scientists study people . When social scientists study drought, they look at how it affects people, communities, and society, and the ways that people can work together to make drought less harmful to society. 

Social scientists help us understand:

  • how drought affects rich countries or people in comparison to poor countries or people.
  • how drought affects men, women, and children.
  • how drought affects different racial or cultural groups.
  • how drought affects families.
  • how drought affects the movement of people from one area to another.
  • how drought affects food systems and food supplies.

Social scientists also help us understand the choices we need to make before, during, and after drought. People can affect the impacts of drought in many ways:

  • People can plan ahead for drought and decide what they, as individuals or as a community, will do if a drought occurs.
  • People can think of new ways to conserve water, or depend less on rainfall, during drought.
  • People can carry out policies that help the community before, during, and after drought. 

Social scientists help us understand how individuals and groups within a society make these choices. You or your parents may make choices before, during, and after drought (for instance, buying water from someone else, not watering the lawn, moving somewhere that is not as dry). But the choices we make are shaped by laws and customs that are part of the community we live in (for instance, laws about who can purchase water, or customs that say you should not move away from other family members or that your lawn should look green all summer long). And the laws and customs of our communities are shaped by the actions of people like you. For example, if you live in an area that often runs short of water during the hottest part of summer, you might start a social movement in your community that makes it “normal” to have a brown lawn during the summer. Once everyone starts to look at brown lawns as “normal” in summer, the “custom” of your community will also be changed, and new people will be more likely to allow their lawns to go brown in the hottest part of summer. As a community, you would save a lot of water that could be used for drinking, washing, and growing food.

The National Drought Mitigation Center | 3310 Holdrege Street | P.O. Box 830988 | Lincoln, NE 68583–0988
phone: (402) 472–6707 | fax: (402) 472–2946 | Contact Us

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Copyright 2014 National Drought Mitigation Center