A calm look at social unrest

In a globalised world, social unrest occurring far away can have transnational ramifications, with effects nearer to home. This has been evident in recent years with movements such as Occupy and Indignados, and the Arab Spring. Unrest could also be the consequence of a terrorist attack, but even the threat of one can lead to widespread panic. The upshot can be disorder and economic turmoil.

The OECD Review of Risk Management Policies: Social Unrest is one of a series presented by the OECD project on Future Global Shocks. The report asks how social unrest evolves in a globalised setting, and if it differs from past experiences. Will social unrest manifest in the cyber world? How will social unrest affect global interdependencies? By developing an analytical framework of social unrest, the report seeks to provide feasible policy options to help governments address social unrest itself, and manage its possible consequences. In working within the paradigm that social unrest is more of a process of escalation than a finite state, the report identifies the drivers, or casual roots, and triggers–events that lead to social unrest–in four case studies: the 2010 Greek financial crisis, the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, cyber-related risks and Hurricane Katrina.

Take the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in which poor planning, widespread panic and uneven response led to chaos and tragedy in Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. While the category three storm was not the strongest the region ever experienced, the escalation of events during and following Katrina turned it into the most destructive. Media coverage focused on the crimes that arose. Nevertheless, most of the blame was placed on the public authorities for their failure to secure law and order and address the problems in a more even-handed way. Katrina highlights the many factors that need to be taken into account when evaluating the risks of social unrest and underlines the difficulties in addressing them properly. By approaching unrest within a framework of risks and potential consequences, societies could be better equipped to handle the eventualities of social unrest, the report suggests.

Visit www.oecdbookshop.org

ISBN 9789264173453

©OECD Observer No 293, Q4 2012




Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Editor's choice

  • Transports in Asia. The Asian Development Bank advocates sustainable transport in a continent where vehicle ownership is perceived as a sign of social success.
  • Vote for your favourite photograph! This World Bank #EachDayISee photo contest aims to display visual stories from all over the world through which people express what they would like to see changed and improved.
  • Why is investment so low in the euro area? This short IMF blog post gives you an insight into the causes of the euro-zone's drastic decline in investment.
  • Have your say! The UN wants to know what matters most to you: pick six global issues in the list and send it to the United Nations.
  • Clear air and healthy lungs: how to better tackle air pollution. From New Delhi to Accra, millions of people breathe polluted air. A new report examines the World Bank’s experience working to improve air quality.
  • The boring secret of great cities. Plenty of things make a city great but what really makes a difference originates in the structure of municipal government according to the OECD's report "The Metropolitan Century".
  • Guinea gets $37.7 million in extra IMF financing to help combat Ebola
  • Towards an international carbon pricing framework? Designing a unified international carbon pricing system could help to move towards a fully functional low-carbon global economy.
  • Putting the global economy on a more virtuous path. Current potential growth rates are well below pre-crisis levels. To avoid stagnation, governments have to put in place robust structural reforms.
  • World Water Day: 22 March 2015 For World Water Day, UN-Water identifies upcoming challenges and sets the theme for the years to come. In 2015, the theme for World Water Day is Water and Sustainable Development.
  • What drives street-based child labour?The ILO, UNICEF, Save the Children and the Lebanese Ministry of Labour launch a first-ever study assessing the scope and characteristics of the increasingly visible phenomenon of one of the worst forms of child labour.
  • No “Grexit”. Speaking to CNBC, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría says he would do everything to make sure Greece does not leave the euro. "Everybody wants Greece to stay in, everybody wants Greece to prosper and to get out of its short-term morass," he told CNBC. Watch the video.
  • engaging citizens
  • Interested in citizen engagement? The World Bank Group offers a four-week online course which aims to teach how citizens can engage in both policymaking and public service delivery.
  • 2.1 million jobs could be created in Europe by 2018 under the three-year investment plan put forward by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, according to the ILO.
  • Become involved in urban flood risk management. This World Bank two-week online forum gives you the opportunity to discuss how to preserve cities from these natural disasters with experts and development leaders.
  • Promoting decent work for migrant workers.This ILO report highlights the need to ensure decent work for migrants, which is part of the global agenda on sustainable development.
  • Composite leading indicators

Most Popular Articles

Subscribe Now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive print editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Poll

What issue are you most concerned about in 2015?

Euro crisis
Unemployment
Global warming
International conflict
Other

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2015