Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore economic conditions of contemporary society to provide
insight into the ways in which the consequences of disaster, including environmental migration, are accentuated.
Design/methodology/approach – This research draws on Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity
and notions of development to analyse disaster. From the analysis, a new concept, liquid development, is
proposed and critiqued as a contributing factor leading to severe contemporary disaster.
Findings – Liquid development provides a new way of making sense of the conditions and consequences of
economic growth and a business as usual attitude. It further provides a framework to explore the potential
disaster of environmental migration in the Pacific Islands arising from liquid development driven climate
change-induced sea level rise.
Research limitations/implications – Analysing these conditions provides greater understanding of the
resulting impact of disaster, creating awareness and informing the need for accountability and social policy.
This study aims to contribute to further practical and research enquiry that will challenge liquid developers to
reconsider their impact and to accept responsibility for vulnerable members of society as part of their
business as usual structure.
Originality/value – This paper adds to Bauman’s understanding of the consequences of globalisation
through the construct of liquid development. It also continues his debate by giving awareness to the global
issue of environmental migration.