Diane Vaughan

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Diane Vaughan is an American sociologist and professor at Columbia University.[1] She is known for her work on organizational and management issues, in particular in the case of the space shuttle Challenger Disaster.[2][3][4]

In the understanding of safety and risk, Vaughan is perhaps best known for coining the phrase "normalization of deviance",[5] which she has used to explain the sociological causes of the Challenger and Columbia disasters.[6][7][8] Vaughan defines this as a process where a clearly unsafe practice comes to be considered normal if it does not immediately cause a catastrophe: "a long incubation period [before a final disaster] with early warning signs that were either misinterpreted, ignored or missed completely."[9][10]

In the study of relationships, Vaughan is known for her research into the process of relationship breakups.[11][12][13][14]

Vaughan received her Ph.D. in sociology from Ohio State University and is a laureate of the Public Understanding of Sociology Award, of the American Sociological Association. The Challenger Launch Decision won the Rachel Carson Prize (inaugural winner)[15] and the Robert K. Merton Award as well as being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.[16]


  • Controlling Unlawful Organizational Behavior (1983).
  • Uncoupling. Turning Points in Intimate Relationships (1986), Oxford University Press.
  • The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA (1996), Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Vaughan, Diane (2021). Dead Reckoning: Air Traffic Control, System Effects, and Risk. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226796406.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Diane Vaughan | Department of Sociology". sociology.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  2. ^ Villeret, Bertrand. "Interview: Diane Vaughan". ConsultingNewsLine. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  3. ^ Campbell-Dollaghan, Kelsey. "How an Organizational Breakdown at NASA Let the Challenger Lift Off". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  4. ^ Haberman, Clyde. "Challenger, Columbia and the Nature of Calamity". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  5. ^ Vaughan, Diane (2016-01-04). The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA, Enlarged Edition, pg, 62. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226346960.
  6. ^ McGuire, Kristi. "The Normalization of Deviance". The Chicago Blog. University of Chicago. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  7. ^ Wilcutt, Terry; Bell, Hal. "The Cost of Silence: Normalization of Deviance and Groupthink" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  8. ^ Howe, Sandra. "Risky Decisions: Sociologist says NASA's culture led to Challenger disaster". BC Chronicle. Boston College. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  9. ^ Banja, John (March 2010). "The normalization of deviance in healthcare delivery". Business Horizons. 53 (2): 139–148. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.10.006. PMC 2821100. PMID 20161685.
  10. ^ Diane Vaughan (4 January 2016). The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA, Enlarged Edition. University of Chicago Press. pp. 30–1. ISBN 978-0-226-34696-0.
  11. ^ Collins, Glen. "Drifting apart: a look at how relationships end". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  12. ^ Wilhelm, Maria. "Headed for a Painful Breakup? Sociologist Diane Vaughan Discusses the Warning Signs". People. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  13. ^ Streitfeld, David. "Uncoupling: When A Pair Becomes Two". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  14. ^ Carbino, Jess. "Defining the Breakup and Consciously Uncoupling: Paltrow and Martin". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  15. ^ "4S Prizes: Rachel Carson Prize". Society for Social Studies of Science. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  16. ^ "Diane Vaughan Award Statement". American Sociological Association. 2009-06-09. Retrieved 2017-09-01.

External links[edit]