WP3 provides both an integrated input to the wider project, and, in itself, pilots and implements innovative social science approaches to the analysis of vulnerability to volcanic hazards. Though behavioural studies on volcanic risk and risk perceptions have been under way in some countries (e.g. Paton et al. 2001, 2008), few studies to date have targeted understanding of the social dimensions of vulnerability to volcanic risk in low and middle income countries. Drawing from approaches in development studies (e.g. Carney 1998; Leach et al. 1999; Sen 1981, 1984), this package of research extends use of the concepts of livelihood assets and entitlements in hazards research beyond drought and flood risk, but also deepens its formulation, as a set of entitlements to reduction of disaster risk. It takes a long-term view of vulnerability as, a) inherent in antecedent conditions and b) extending through to the capacity to recover (and adapt) (Bankoff et al. 2004; Wisner et al. 2004). As well as generating in-depth insights into contextual vulnerability from case study research, the work package builds on existing methods (see e.g. Aceves-Quesada et al. 2007) to develop social vulnerability assessment tools for volcanic risk informed by analysis of the processes of vulnerability generation.

Vulnerability is analyzed in terms of detrimental outcomes to wellbeing, life and livelihoods, and needs to be assessed in relation to abilities to withstand losses and recover. This requires attention to social structures (such as access, distribution and tenure to land, for example) as well as to patterns of differential vulnerability at household level (Few 2007).

Vulnerability is commonly understood as a combination of exposure to hazard and susceptibility to its impacts (Wisner et al. 2004; Cutter 2006). Though sometimes conceived as an ‘outcome' of these processes, revealed by disaster events, there are strong reasons to analyze it alternatively as ‘contextual', as an inherent social condition in which we can assess the potential for exposure and susceptibility to harm (O'Brien 2007). Potential susceptibility is shaped not only by the livelihood assets at risk (including personal safety, home, and farming activities), but also by access to protective resources/interventions and access to the means to cope and recover (including access to support systems and critical infrastructure). Access, in turn, is articulated as ‘entitlements' to reduction of disaster risk, via: (a) Resources to self-protect (e.g. knowledge of evacuation drill, strength of roof to withstand ash-fall) pre-event prevention/mitigation/preparedness; (b) Resources to self-recover (e.g. to restore income, rebuild home) post-event recovery; (c) External protection (e.g. land use controls, diversion structures, early warning systems) pre-event prevention/mitigation/preparedness; (d) External relief/recovery intervention and access to essential services (e.g. search-and-rescue, shelter, health care, secure electricity, livelihood rehabilitation, rebuilding) post-event recovery. These last two aspects are an important theme of integration with WP4, and the methodologies of the two work packages will be closely connected in both fieldwork and analysis.