Care Ethics and the Responsible Management of Power and Privacy in Digitally Enhanced Disaster Response

Paul Hayes, Damian Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose: This paper aims to argue that traditional ethical theories used in disaster response may be inadequate and particularly strained by the emergence of new technologies and social media, particularly with regard to privacy. The paper suggests incorporation of care ethics into the disaster ethics nexus to better include the perspectives of disaster affected communities.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper presents a theoretical examination of privacy and care ethics in the context of social media/digitally enhanced disaster response.
Findings: The paper proposes an ethics of care can fruitfully by used by public and private agents in disaster management. Its relational ontology restores the priority of fostering good relationships between stakeholders, thus giving central importance to values such as transparency and trust and the situated knowledge of disaster-affected communities.
Research limitations/implications: This paper presents theoretical research and is limited by the availability of empirical data. There is opportunity for future research to evaluate the impact of a conscious adoption of an ethics of care by disaster management agents.
Practical implications: An ethos of care ethics needs to be mainstreamed into disaster management organisations and digital initiatives.
Social implications: This paper argues that power asymmetry in disaster response renders the public vulnerable to abuse, and that the adoption of care ethics can support disaster management agents in recognising this power imbalance and wielding power responsibly.
Originality/value: This paper examines the applicability of an alternative ethical framework to novel circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Care ethics
  • Disaster management
  • Emergency management information systems
  • Power asymmetry
  • Privacy
  • Social media
  • Ushahidi


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