Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

D.S.W. Social work


Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Juliana Svistova

Second Advisor

Dr. Janice Gasker

Third Advisor

Dr. Keith Massie


This work presents a comprehensive study of the disaster discourses generated by key social media user groups in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria, the third most destructive hurricane in American history, resulted in billions of dollars in damage and the loss of nearly 3,000 lives. Disasters result in widespread geophysical impacts as well as social, political, and economic upheavals for individuals, families, communities, and nation-states in the storm’s wake. The discourses that emerge on social media are significant in how they frame public narratives in the aftermath of disaster. The social construction of disaster points to the contested nature of these frames as they vie for dominance in the public sphere, including social media communicative spaces. The literature suggests that there are numerous key interpretive communities and narratives present at any given time. The current study explores six of these communities (individuals, government, military, media, nonprofits, and others) and their corresponding disaster narratives as communicated via Twitter. By utilizing a social constructionist/critical theoretical framework, the prevalent frames embedded in the disaster discourses are identified. These frames include the political frame, destruction frame, victim/hero frame, military/humanitarian aid frame, and counter-narratives.

Included in

Social Work Commons



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