Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Linda L. Belgrave

Second Committee Member

Marvin P. Dawkins

Third Committee Member

Kate Ramsey


Studies focusing the cholera epidemic in Haiti seldom examine the social dimension of this waterborne disease epidemic from the perspective of the population. Further, the social contexts within which people’s behaviors, practices, and meanings are formed is undervalued. As the number of cholera cases continue to vacillate over the years, understanding Haitians’ behaviors in this conjuncture is a sine sine qua non since the control and eradication of any waterborne disease epidemic requires a biosocial approach. This study addresses this gap. From a symbolic interactionist perspective, using a constructivist grounded theory methodology, this study examined the extent to which the epidemic changed the everyday life of Haitians since its onset in 2010 with a focus on the processes by which people are adapting to cholera related disruptions. Data were collected through interviewing thirty Haitians living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The theory developed explains the ways in which individuals navigate changing social and epidemiological contexts amidst the ongoing cholera epidemic. Results indicate that changes in people’s behaviors and practices are linked to their understanding of the epidemic’s life cycle, structural factors (i.e. provision of public services), their perception of the disease, and their concern with societal blame. Lastly, economic resources are primary factors that mitigate risks of cholera exposure. Having a reliable source of income and being integrated in cohesive social networks were key means of adaptation that allowed people to follow cholera prevention guidelines despite of inadequate water and sanitation infrastructures citywide.


cholera epidemy; Haiti; grounded theory; social context; interviews