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Abstract

The social ethics of relief giving (the bases on which relief ought to be given) in natural disaster situations are explored through a case study of public reactions to Red Cross activities. Red Cross policies and public reactions to them are reviewed, and survey data pertaining to attitudes toward the Red Cross and toward relief giving in natural disasters of residents of a western New York county are presented. Specifically, public satisfaction with present Red Cross dis:ribution policies is explored, and public perceptions of "loss vs need" as bases for relief giving are examined. Although there are some qualifications, findings show a large segment of the public supporting bases other than "need" for the distribution of disaster services. This is especially true for those who have actually received disaster aid. Implications are that the public does not always support a redistributive role for relief giving, but in some cases with some populations expects relief giving to reinforce the status quo.

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