Increasing American fear about terrorism, environmental catastrophes, pandemics, and economic crises has fueled interest in "prepping": confronting disaster by mastering survivalist skills. This trend of self-reliance is not merely evidence of the American belief in the power of the individual; rather, this pragmatic shift away from expecting government aid during a disaster reflects a weakened belief in the bond between government and its citizens during a time of crisis. This ethnographic study explores the rise of the urban preppers' subculture in New York City, shedding light on the distinctive approach of city dwellers in preparing for disaster. With attention to the role of factors such as class, race, gender and one’s expectations of government, it shows that how one imagines Doomsday affects how one prepares for it. Drawing on participant observation, the author explores preppers’ views on the central question of whether to "bug out" or "hunker down" in the event of disaster, and examines the ways in which the prepper economy increases revenue by targeting concerns over developing skills, building networks, securing equipment and arranging a safe locale. A rich qualitative study, Bracing for the Apocalypse will appeal to scholars of sociology and anthropology with interests in urban studies, ethnography and subcultures.

part 1|62 pages

Understanding the rise of prepping in the global city of New York

chapter 1|20 pages

“Ready.Gov” versus “Ready without Gov”

Prepping for disaster

chapter 2|21 pages

New York marks the spot

Living on the X

chapter 3|19 pages

Popular entertainment

Preppers as characters and as consumers

part 2|39 pages

Prepping in New York: Going it alone or going together

chapter 4|20 pages

“Bugging in”

Sheltering in place for the extremely wealthy and mere mortals

chapter 5|17 pages

“Bugging out”

Strategic relocation and strategic packing

part 3|68 pages

Urban prepping and symbolic interaction

chapter 7|27 pages

Toughing it out over the weekend

chapter 8|14 pages

Dodging a bullet

part 4|13 pages

Urban prepping as a new reflection of citizenship

chapter 9|11 pages

Future directions for NYC prepping