Dr. Bones Says: In other countries, all that citizens hear or see regarding preparedness is from the content of shows like “Doomsday Preppers”. Unfortunately, these programs have led to misconceptions on the part of the public as to what prepping and preppers are all about. This happens in the U.S., but much more in Europe and other areas. I’d like that to change, and I offer you the opportunity to help bring about that change.
Michael Mills is a Ph.D. candidate and Assistant Lecturer in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at University of Kent (England), undertaking 3 years of research on the preparedness community in America and Britain. In this article, Michael explains some of the problems and misconceptions his research aims to address, and makes an appeal for participants for anonymous interviews that will challenge inaccurate stereotypes of the preparedness community.
I’m sure many will agree that mainstream media stereotypes (the product of Nat Geo and other such shows) leave a lot to be desired when it comes to understanding prepping. For many, prepping remains shrouded in mystery: some think it is the domain of apocalyptic doomsday cults, others think it is the purely domain of violent militias, others associate it with dramatically anti-social and paranoid hermits.
My research is geared towards conducting an open-minded and more objective exploration of this culture, which will shed light on the various aspects of the preparedness community that remain unknown to many. You can read more about the project here:
In order to maximise the potential for this research to uncover something new and accurate about preparedness, the research is reliant on being able to talk to preppers and have them explain what started them in preparedness and why they continue to prep.
As an English Ph.D. student seeking to find out as much as I can about the reality of prepping, I am travelling to (and around) the United States from early-September and mid/late-November 2014 for one purpose: to meet with as many preppers as I can in order to interview them and get a better sense of what they do and why. I will be travelling across a wide variety of locations, and I’m interested in meeting anyone from any area.
This article is an appeal for respondents and interviewees for this timely and valuable research.
The opportunity to sit down and talk with preppers like you for 30 minutes, a couple of hours, or however long, is possibly more valuable an insightful than you could imagine.
To make this plain, I have absolutely no interest in breaching the privacy or anonymity of my respondents – I am aware that many preppers choose to protect their identities and the secrecy of their preparations. Real names and locations will not be used in any way in the research – indeed, interviewees don’t even have to tell me their real name or location at any stage. Anything shared with me will not be shared with anyone else beyond being presented in anonymised summary form in media and academic publications.
As for a potential location for any interview, this can be entirely up to you. In line with my respect for your anonymity and privacy, I am happy to meet you in any town or location you choose – an interview does not necessarily mean coming to your home, or even to your nearest town, and I am more than happy to meet at any location with which your are comfortable.
During this trip I will also be attending 4 preparedness / self-reliance expos as an exhibitor. At these events I will be handing out copies of a survey I have designed and conducting interviews with those in attendance. The events I will be at are:
- Self Reliance Expo (Houston, Texas). September 12th-13th.
- PrepperFest AZ Spring Expo (Phoenix, Arizona). October 25th-26th.
- Self Reliance Expo (Denver, Colorado). November 7th-8th.
- Back to Basics Sustainable Living and Survival Expo (Dallas, Texas). November 15th -16th.
If you are attending these events and would like to meet with me there, then do get in touch or just come and find me on the day. Otherwise, do come over and say a friendly hello!
As mentioned, this article is an appeal for as many preppers as possible to get involved in this research and make a contribution. There are 2 ways you can do this:
- Firstly, the most important: get in touch with me (at firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are willing to participate in a face-to-face interview (Skype interviews are also a possibility). Please do so if you even just curious about being interviewed – any caution and apprehension on your part is more than justified (and indeed sensible), and I am more than happy to explain (via email or skype) anything in more detail.
I have already begun this interview process, and these are typically relaxed conversations that allow you to put things in your own words, and allow me to learn from anything you’re willing to share.
- Secondly, you can also make a valuable contribution to the research by taking this online survey:
Collecting such information also gives me a broader impression of some features of the preparedness movement, though it covers many issues in less detail. It should take between 25-30 minutes to complete.
There is also a third option: there is no problem with you getting involved in both parts of the research (perhaps taking the survey before deciding about any interviews).
ANY contribution you can make is terrifically valuable, and greatly appreciated. I thank you for any time you can, or have already, spared.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe!
(University of Kent)