Late Latin vulnerabilis, from Latin vulnerare to wound, from vulner-, vulnus wound; probably akin to Latin vellere to pluck, Greek oulē wound
- 1: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
- 2: open to attack or damage : assailable <vulnerable to criticism>
- 3: liable to increased penalties but entitled to increased bonuses after winning a game in contract bridge
In its broadest sense, social vulnerability is one dimension of vulnerability to multiple stressors and shocks, including natural hazards. Social vulnerability refers to the inability of people, organizations, and societies to withstand adverse impacts from multiple stressors to which they are exposed. These impacts are due in part to characteristics inherent in social interactions, institutions, and systems of cultural values.
Because it is most apparent when calamity occurs, many studies of social vulnerability are found in risk management literature (Peacock and Ragsdale 1997; Anderson and Woodrow 1998; Alwang, Siegel et al. 2001; Conway and Norton 2002). However, social vulnerability is a pre-existing condition that affects a society’s ability to prepare for and recover from a disruptive event.