Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks exposed vulnerabilities to U.S. homeland security and defense, leading U.S. officials to analyze threats to domestic and international interests. Terrorist attacks against food and water supplies (agro-terrorism), were deemed a national security threat because of the assessed fear, economic instability, and social instability that could occur following a food shortage. Research indicated a comprehensive response plan does not exist across the federal, state, and local levels of government to mitigate the public's possible responses to a perceived threat to food security and food shortages following an agro-terrorist attack. This ethnographic case study analyzed the perceived threats to food security and the possible responses to food shortages in Yuma, Arizona (the 'winter lettuce capitol of the world'). Coleman and Putnam's theories of social capital served as the theoretical framework for this study. Data were collected through semistructured interviews of nine residents and six experts from Yuma's departments of government to examine the relative atmospherics between the citizens and government officials. Findings indicated that a comprehensive plan does not exist, and perceived fears and the lack of knowledge about emergency preparedness in a society with high social capital and community resilience can still create the conditions for chaos and anomie. Recommendations include improving communication, education, and expectation management of citizens. Implications for social change include improving public awareness and individual responsibility for preparedness, as well as assisting policymakers in maintaining social capital to deter social disorganization and anomie during disasters.