Survivalists and Preppers

Survivalism is the practice of preparing for the imminent apocalyptic destruction of society which might be framed within either a religious or secular narrative. Survivalists are also known as ‘preppers’ because of this focus on preparation for catastrophe.

Survivalists prepare for a future where governmental and civic infrastructure fails. In most imaginings, this failure might be caused by ecological disasters, economic collapse, civil war (especially along racial lines), nuclear attack, and foreign invasion. The focus in survivalism is most often on practical steps required for surviving disaster without a functioning human society.

The survivalist focus is on how to survive these events through stockpiling resources, planning escape routes, and buying remote properties in which to ‘bug out’. Some survivalists have already moved to remote locations and live ‘off grid’. Others continue with mainstream lifestyles but invest in different levels of preparation for a future ‘apocalypse’.

The focus on preparation for and survival of the end of the world (as we know it) leads sociologist Philip Lamy to categorise survivalists as ‘tribulationists’ (1996, 5). This means that they focus on the catastrophe preceding the millennium and their ability to survive it through physical and spiritual preparedness.