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Despite the ubiquity of disaster and the increasing toll in human lives and financial costs, much research and policy remain focused on physical infrastructure–centered approaches to such events. Governmental organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security, United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, United States Agency for International Development, and United Kingdom’s Department for International Development continue to spend heavily on hardening levees, raising existing homes, and repairing damaged facilities despite evidence that social, not physical, infrastructure drives resilience. This article highlights the critical role of social capital and networks in disaster survival and recovery and lays out recent literature and evidence on the topic. We look at definitions of social capital, measurement and proxies, types of social capital, and mechanisms and application. The article concludes with concrete policy recommendations for disaster managers, government decision makers, and nongovernmental organizations for increasing resilience to catastrophe through strengthening social infrastructure at the community level.
Policy Studies Organization
From the SelectedWorks of Daniel P Aldrich
Social Capital and Community Resilience
Daniel P Aldrich, Purdue University
Michelle Meyer
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American Behavioral Scientist
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DOI: 10.1177/0002764214550299
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Daniel P. Aldrich and Michelle A. Meyer
Social Capital and Community Resilience
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DOI: 10.1177/0002764214550299
Social Capital and
Community Resilience
Daniel P. Aldrich1 and Michelle A. Meyer2
Despite the ubiquity of disaster and the increasing toll in human lives and financial
costs, much research and policy remain focused on physical infrastructure–centered
approaches to such events. Governmental organizations such as the Department of
Homeland Security, United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, United
States Agency for International Development, and United Kingdom’s Department
for International Development continue to spend heavily on hardening levees, raising
existing homes, and repairing damaged facilities despite evidence that social, not
physical, infrastructure drives resilience. This article highlights the critical role of social
capital and networks in disaster survival and recovery and lays out recent literature
and evidence on the topic. We look at definitions of social capital, measurement and
proxies, types of social capital, and mechanisms and application. The article concludes
with concrete policy recommendations for disaster managers, government decision
makers, and nongovernmental organizations for increasing resilience to catastrophe
through strengthening social infrastructure at the community level.
community resilience, social capital, disaster recovery, mortality, public policy,
Catastrophes and disasters regularly affect more people around the world than highly
publicized, but rarer, events such as terrorist attacks. In March 2011, the 9.0 magnitude
earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Tohoku, Japan, killed more than
18,500 people and displaced nearly half a million. In November 2013, Typhoon
1Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
2Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Daniel P. Aldrich, Purdue University, Beering Hall, 100 North University Street, West Lafayette, IN
47907, USA.
550299ABSXXX10.1177/0002764214550299American Behavioral ScientistAldrich and Meyer
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2 American Behavioral Scientist
Yolanda ripped through the Philippines killing 6,000 people and causing hundreds of
millions of dollars in damage. Disasters like these disrupt the fabric of community life
and stress social systems (Fritz, 1961). Large-scale crises and catastrophes sit in the
category of wicked policy problems as they have no technical solution, involve multi-
ple stakeholders, and create ripple effects. Unfortunately, more individuals and prop-
erty are at risk from disaster each year. Population growth, increasing inequality,
migration, and development in hazard-prone areas, such as coastal regions, place more
people and property in harm’s way (Crossett, Culliton, Wiley, & Goodspeed, 2004).
Anthropogenic climate change will bring rising sea levels and create the potential for
more intense storms, droughts, and floods (Field et al., 2007). A common policy
response to such risks has been strengthening physical infrastructure, building up sea-
walls, raising buildings on stilts, and ratcheting up building codes. However, no
amount of investment in physical infrastructure will be able to reduce all risk and
eliminate vulnerability. Furthermore, spending on disaster preparation moves with
political cycles, not necessity (Healy & Malhotra, 2009). An alternative approach to
predisaster mitigation, which also influences the recovery process, rests on strengthen-
ing social infrastructure, like social capital, that affects community resilience.
Community resilience describes the collective ability of a neighborhood or geo-
graphically defined area to deal with stressors and efficiently resume the rhythms of
daily life through cooperation following shocks (Aldrich, 2012c). Many academic
fields, including psychology (Bonanno, 2004; Masten, 2001), sociology (Mileti,
1999), socioecological systems (Adger, Hughes, Folke, Carpenter, & Rockstrom,
2005; Folke, 2006; Nelson, Adger, & Brown, 2007), and disaster research (Norris et
al., 2008; Bruneau et al., 2003; Manyena, 2006), draw on the concept of group or com-
munity resilience. With rising disaster losses, disaster management experts have
adopted various forms of resilience as a way to address losses and rebound from the
impacts. For example, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National
Disaster Recovery Framework (FEMA, 2010), the Whole Community Approach to
Emergency Management (FEMA, 2011), the United Nations Making Cities Resilient
Campaign (UNISDR, 2012), the Hyogo Framework for Action (UNISDR, 2005), and
the National Health Security Strategy (NHSS, 2009) all incorporate resilience in their
frameworks. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, 2011) suggested
that local and national responders build and maintain partnerships among emergency
management, community sectors, and organizations; empower local action through
increased social capital and civic activity; and leverage and strengthen existing social
infrastructure, networks, and assets. Similarly, the Australian Red Cross has developed
a new manual for first responders focused on social capital (Australian Red Cross,
2012), and a number of new nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) formed in
Tohoku, Japan post-3/11 have generating social capital as their core function (e.g.,
Disaster research has long recognized that communities regularly work together to
survive and recover from catastrophic impacts (Fischer, 2008; Quarantelli & Dynes,
1977). While disaster situations may typically call forth images of trained profession-
als and formal rescue operations, scholarship has shown that informal ties, particularly
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Aldrich and Meyer 3
neighbors, regularly serve as actual first responders. Neighbors check on the well-
being of others nearby and provide immediate lifesaving assistance. Following the
1995 Kobe earthquake, for example, the majority of individuals who were pulled from
the rubble of their collapsed homes were saved by neighbors, not firefighters or rescue
workers (Aldrich, 2012b; Horwich, 2000; Shaw & Goda, 2004). Following the March
2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns, survivors in Japan indicated that
many of the elderly and infirm were saved from the incoming tsunami not by their own
actions but by the assistance of neighbors, friends, and family (Aldrich site visits
Individual and community social capital networks provide access to various
resources in disaster situations, including information, aid, financial resources, and
child care along with emotional and psychological support (Elliott, Haney, & Sams-
Abiodun, 2010; Hurlbert, Haines, & Beggs, 2000; Kaniasty & Norris, 1993). Despite
the evidence about its efficacy, resilience research and disaster management practice
have yet to fully embrace social capital as a critical component. Perhaps because
scholars have agreed on fewer metrics for social capital than other economic or demo-
graphic factors (Meyer, 2013; Ritchie, n.d.), practitioners have underutilized social
cohesion and social networks in disaster planning and management (Aldrich, 2010;
Wisner, 2003).
In this article, we review the definition of social capital and its application to com-
munity resilience before, during, and after disasters, illuminating methods for captur-
ing it qualitatively and quantitatively. We then move to empirical evidence for the
significant role social capital plays in disaster response and recovery and conclude
with policy recommendations for enhancing disaster resilience through deepening
reserves of social capital.
Definition and Theories of Social Capital
Nearly a century ago, Louis Hanifan (1916) identified social capital as good will, fel-
lowship, mutual sympathy, and social intercourse among a group of individuals and
families who make up a social unit. Since then, multiple disciplines have adopted the
concept, which, broadly speaking, identifies how involvement and participation in
groups can have positive consequences for the individual and the community (Portes,
1998). Bourdieu defined social capital as one of four types of capital, along with eco-
nomic, cultural, and symbolic, that collectively determine social life trajectories. In his
definition, social capital is the aggregate of the actual or potential resources that are
linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relation-
ships of mutual acquaintance or recognition (Bourdieu, 1985). Coleman (1988) and
Lin (1999a, 1999b) have drawn on Bourdieu’s definition to focus on the effect of
social capital for individual outcomes. Coleman (1988) focused on how social capital
and social structures of relationships could be actualized into concrete resources for
use by individuals. Lin further tied social capital to networks of relationships, defining
it as resources embedded in one’s social networks, resources that can be accessed or
mobilized through ties in the networks (Lin, 2001). Robert Putnam (1995, 2000)
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4 American Behavioral Scientist
popularized this concept through an article in the Journal of Democracy titled
“Bowling Alone,” which he then expanded into a book by the same name. He focused
on the role of social capital in generating benefits beyond individuals at the neighbor-
hood and community level. In his earlier work on the differences between northern
and southern Italy (which he traced to levels of civic engagement and civil society),
Putnam (1993) defined social capital broadly as the features of social organizations,
such as networks, norms, and trust that facilitate action and cooperation for mutual
There are multiple ways to try to measure social capital, and social scientists remain
divided on ways of capturing it through objective measures. One set of proxies builds
on the attitudinal and cognitive aspects of social capital. For example, surveys com-
monly measure general trust as an aspect of social capital by assessing the levels of
agreement with statements such as “Most people can be trusted” or “Most people are
honest” (Putnam, 2000, p. 91). Also, levels of trust can be measured in relation to
certain groups, such as local government officials, national government representa-
tives, first responders, neighbors, and relatives, such as trust that others will not go
egotistically (“Do you trust others not to take advantage of you?”) and trust in neigh-
bors (“What level of trust do you have in those who live near you?”; Nakagawa &
Shaw, 2004).
Another measurement approach looks instead at the behavioral manifestations of
social capital in daily life, asking questions about—among other topics—leaving
doors unlocked, the number of hours volunteered, membership in horizontal associa-
tions (such as homeowners’ associations, sports clubs, and NGOs), and the number of
names of known neighbors. For example, analysts ask respondents about their use of
free time (“How many times have you donated blood in the last month?”) and about
the depth of their social connections (“With how many friends and contacts do you
discuss your problems?”). The National Social Capital Benchmark Community Survey
from Harvard University (2000, 2006) is the largest and most commonly used survey
of social capital. It assesses individuals’ sense of belonging in community and friend
groups; participation in public meetings, political events, community projects; mem-
bership in religious, social, recreation, and NGOs; frequency of visiting with neigh-
bors and friends; and volunteering.
Beyond the divide between cognitive and behavioral approaches, many researchers
have begun trying to capture levels of social capital through experimental methods.
Some have undertaken laboratory experiments (Cardenas & Carpenter, 2008) whereas
others have undertaken experiments out in the field (Levitt & List, 2009). Field experi-
ments may take advantage of natural conditions (called natural experiments) or they
may actively divide subjects into control and experimental groups through field ran-
domized control trials. Laboratory experiments facilitate studying the role of particu-
lar measures of social capital in isolation. Such experiments include providing currency
or other material benefits to participants and having them play out classic rational-
choice scenarios such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma, Dictator Game, and Trust Game.
Findings from these experiments show that in the place of formal institutions, social
norms, and preferences manage behavior and that these informal institutions may
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Aldrich and Meyer 5
outperform formal rules and institutions (e.g., Ostrom, 1990). Rather than adopting
purely rational, self-centered behaviors, for example, many field experiment partici-
pants chose to treat their partners with altruism.
Researchers have conducted research on social capital in real disasters using a wide
variety of approaches including quantitative surveys, in-depth interviews, field obser-
vations, and statistical indicators from publicly available data. Based on evidence from
different disasters, three separate projects recently generated indices to quantify disas-
ter resilience, each of which included social capital (Cutter, Burton, & Emrich, 2010;
Peacock et al., 2010; Sherrieb, Norris, & Galea, 2010). All three included data on
participation in nonprofit, religious, and civic/political organizations, the number of
registered voters, and voter participation. Other factors included in the indices are
business and professional associations, owner-occupied units, census response rates,
recreational organizations, migration rates and creative class employment, population
residing in state in which they were born, ratio of two-parent households, and crime
rates. With so many potential indicators more research is needed to understand how to
weight these indicators within quantitative measures. While some researchers have
begun to embrace social capital in their research, much work is needed to fully under-
stand how social capital interacts with other forms of capital, how different forms of
social capital contribute to disaster resilience, and how well different preevent mea-
sures of social capital predict postdisaster recovery.
Types and Applications of Social Capital
Some scholars now separate social capital into three main types: bonding, bridging,
and linking (Aldrich, 2012a; Kawachi, Kim, Coutts, & Subramanian, 2004; Szreter &
Woolcock, 2004). Each type identifies variation in strength of relationships and com-
position of networks and thus different outcomes for individuals and communities.
Bonding social capital describes the connections among individuals who are emotion-
ally close, such as friends or family, and result in tight bonds to a particular group
(Adler & Kwon, 2002). Bonding social capital is commonly characterized by homoph-
ily (i.e., high levels of similarity) in demographic characteristics, attitudes, and avail-
able information and resources (McPherson, Smith-Lovin, & Cook, 2001; Mouw,
2006). The strong connection makes this type of social capital good for providing
social support and personal assistance, especially in times of need such as disaster
(Hurlbert et al., 2000).
In contrast, bridging social capital describes acquaintances or individuals loosely
connected that span social groups, such as class or race. These ties are more likely to
display demographic diversity and provide novel information and resources that can
assist individuals in advancing in society. The classic example comes from
Granovetter’s (1983) work on the strength of weak ties, in which bridging ties pro-
vided more employment opportunities than bonding ties. Bridging social capital often
comes from involvement in organizations including civic and political institutions,
parent–teacher associations, and sports and interest clubs along with educational and
religious groups (Small, 2010).
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6 American Behavioral Scientist
The third type of network connection is linking social capital, which connects regu-
lar citizens with those in power. Scholars have defined this type of network as embody-
ing norms of respect and networks of trusting relationships between people who are
interacting across explicit, formal, or institutionalized power or authority gradients in
society (Szreter & Woolcock, 2004). Many local residents in the coastal villages of
Tamil Nadu, India, for example, had never met a representative of their governments
at any level. But some had met the collector—a sort of ombudsman—and that connec-
tion allowed them to get on the map for disaster aid following the 2004 Indian Ocean
tsunami (Aldrich, 2012c).
Empirical Evidence of Social Capital in Disaster Settings
Disaster researchers have built up a strong body of evidence about the role of social
cohesion and networks during and after catastrophe. Disaster scholars have used social
capital to understand the trajectory of individuals (based on what resources are
accessed through social networks) as well as communities (based on levels of trust,
collective action, and other public goods). Social networks provide financial (e.g.,
loans and gifts for property repair) and nonfinancial resources (e.g., search and rescue,
debris removal, child care during recovery, emotional support, sheltering, and infor-
mation). Isolated individuals with few social ties are less likely to be rescued, seek
medical help, take preventative action such as evacuate, and receive assistance from
others, such as shelter (Dynes, 2005, 2006). In Klinenberg’s (2003) study of the 1995
Chicago heat wave, isolated, elderly individuals were the most likely to die and not be
found for days. Additionally, these deaths were more likely in a poor, African American
community that had less public organizational space and less social capital than an
equally poor, neighboring Hispanic community.
The first and most common form of social network available to disaster-affected
individuals is bonding social capital (Norris et al., 2002). Deeper reservoirs of bond-
ing social capital allow individuals to receive warnings, undertake disaster prepara-
tion, locate shelter and supplies, and obtain immediate aid and initial recovery
assistance (Hawkins & Maurer, 2010; Heller et al., 2005). In disasters, family ties are
central to resilience because kin commonly serve as the first providers of assistance
(Drabek & Boggs, 1968; Garrison & Sasser, 2009; Haines, Hurlbert, & Beggs, 1996;
Hurlbert et al., 2000). Individuals assume family members, especially immediate fam-
ily of parents/stepparents, children, and siblings, will support each other in disasters,
with 85% identifying at least one family member and 36% identifying only family
members among their social capital networks for disaster assistance (Meyer, 2013).
Bonding social capital can reduce individuals’ likelihood of seeking formal aid from
organizations during disasters (Beggs, Haines, & Hurlbert, 1996) and increase the
likelihood of emergent social action to respond to disaster victims’ needs (Shepherd &
Williams, 2014). For example, Tse, Wei, and Wang (2013) found that Chinese house-
holds with larger Spring Festival networks—a social network that meets for yearly
celebrations—increased the likelihood that the household would rebuild their home
after the 2008 earthquake.
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Aldrich and Meyer 7
Higher levels of bonding social capital can translate into greater levels of trust and
more widely shared norms among residents. Nakagawa and Shaw’s (2004) study of
the Gujarat and Kobe earthquakes uncovered that communities with high trust, norms,
participation, and networks were able to more quickly recover from disaster. Even
though the communities differed in cultural and economic characteristics, communi-
ties with higher social capital and community leadership showed the highest satisfac-
tion with community rebuilding and quickest recovery. Feelings of mutual trust and
dependence increased awareness of disaster management and volunteer opportunities
and responsibilities, which in turn support disaster preparedness (Hausman, Hanlon, &
Seals, 2007), collective response and recovery (Brunie, 2010), and adaptation and col-
lective decision making for risk and recovery (Adger, 2003).
Similarly, Chamlee-Wright and Storr (2009) followed the recovery of a low income,
Vietnamese immigrant community in New Orleans that was severely flooded during
Hurricane Katrina. The tight-knit Village de L’Est was able to return and rebuild more
efficiently than less damaged and richer neighborhoods based on both bonding social
capital and the role of the Catholic Church in the community. Particularly, the local
church was able to share goods that supported coordination in the community for
recovery and political action to protect the area from outside redevelopment and zon-
ing changes.
Although bonding social capital is the most commonly available social resource
available, research has shown that bridging ties also alter the recovery trajectory.
Bridging social capital has been shown to provide similar benefits in disaster contexts as
it does in daily life—opportunities and information to access novel resources that assist
in long-term recovery (Hawkins & Maurer, 2010). Ties to social organizations provide
both connection to an organization that can provide support through institutional chan-
nels (e.g., a church collecting money for a family in need) and potential informal ties to
individuals who may not be accessible through bonding social capital (e.g., friendships
developing between church members from different socioeconomic backgrounds). For
example, Haines, Hurlbert, and Beggs (1996) found that members of social groups
received more support following Hurricane Andrew. Bridging ties contributed to resil-
ience of the Mary Queen of Vietnam community through charitable action by local and
national organizations, which brought in external resources and commercial cooperation
between businesses and community members that provided resources and labor (Airriess,
Chia-Chen, Leong, Li, & Keith, 2008; Chamlee-Wright, 2006).
Other studies have confirmed the role of bridging connections. Pre–World War II
ties through voluntary associations and nonprofit groups provided strong resilience in
Japan following the massive destruction of the war. While many of that nation’s 47
prefectures struggled to rebuild schools, homes, and other institutions, communities
with higher levels of bridging connections did so more efficiently (Kage, 2011).
Aldrich (2012a) found that voter turnout and number of political gatherings at the
community level were better indicators of population growth after the 1923 Tokyo
earthquake than economic indicators, population density, or amount of damage.
Number of nongovernmental organizations, clubs, and social groups have also been
shown to positively correlate with postdisaster population recovery (Aldrich, 2012b).
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8 American Behavioral Scientist
Bonding and bridging social capital work in complementary but distinct ways during
and after crises, and communities regularly have more of one type than the other. Elliott
et al. (2010) compared disaster outcomes for residents of two communities in New
Orleans, the Lower Ninth Ward, a poor, majority African American community, and
Lakeview, an affluent, majority White community. They found that while Ninth Ward
residents relied on bonding social capital for informal support during Hurricane Katrina,
they received less support overall, including less sheltering assistance from social ties
and less contact with neighborhood ties (bridging social capital) in the year following the
event. The authors concluded that a lack of bridging social capital to people outside the
affected area and ties with individuals with more resources resulted in reduced resilience
for Ninth Ward residents compared with those in Lakeview. Hawkins and Maurer (2010)
used qualitative interviews with Hurricane Katrina survivors and found that while bond-
ing social capital from family and friends was important for immediate disaster needs,
bridging social capital allowed networks to gather information and supplies from other
races and economic strata. In contrast, Reininger et al. (2013) found that higher feeling
of trust and perceptions of fairness in the community (measures for bonding social capi-
tal) were related to increased household preparedness, whereas organizational member-
ship (a proxy for bridging social capital) had no effect.
While much research has investigated how predisaster levels of social capital affect
postdisaster recovery, disasters can affect social cohesion especially when people are
displaced or a majority of the community experiences losses. For example, Brouwer
and Nhassengo (2006) found a complicated relationship with trust and reciprocal rela-
tionships to disaster resilience. Residents of Mozambique villages with higher social
capital did provide more support following the 2000 floods to fellow villagers, but that
support was limited to small items, such as food and supplies. The large scale of the
disaster also reduced the number of residents involved in reciprocal sharing of farm
labor and supply relationships, diminishing the village’s overall level of social capital.
Tobin-Gurley, Peek, and Loomis (2010) found that single mothers, who are more
likely to rely on reciprocal favors in nondisaster settings, had difficulty recovering
when displaced away from their social networks after Hurricane Katrina. Ritchie
(2012) describes how the Exxon Valdez oil spill impacts and litigation required so
much time and effort from Cordova, Alaska, residents that social capital activities,
such as participation in public meetings and socializing with neighbors, declined.
While Takeda, Tamura, and Tatsuki (2003) found that survivors in Japan expressed
greater interest in civic activities and involvement following the earthquake, this find-
ing existed among those with fewer losses or who recovered more quickly. From their
research on technological disasters such as oil spills, Ritchie and Gill (2007) argued
that social capital provides the theoretical umbrella to organize the social effects of
these disasters such as declines in community cohesion, loss of trust in institutions,
and less participation in social activities.
Finally, social capital is commonly viewed as positively affecting disaster resil-
ience. Yet social cohesion—primarily bonding social capital—can also bring negative
consequences in disasters. As a public good, social capital can be used to resist various
disaster recovery needs. Following Hurricane Katrina, neighborhoods with higher
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Aldrich and Meyer 9
voter turnout before the storm were more likely to successfully resist the placement of
temporary trailer housing in their neighborhood (Aldrich & Crook, 2008). In Tamil
Nadu following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, uur panchayat [caste councils] con-
trolling the aid distribution process left off dalits, Muslims, and widows from the lists
because they saw them as peripheral to the community (Aldrich, 2011). Decision mak-
ers need to recognize the potential “dark side” from strong in-group cohesion during
and after disasters.
Policy Recommendations
Given the importance of social capital in determining resilience to shocks, NGOs and
government agencies have adopted a number of policies and programs shown to
increase reservoirs of trust and deepen networks. The various methods use existing
networks and community activities as spaces for incorporating disaster issues and
resilience actions or create whole new networks and activities focused specifically on
disaster issues (Meyer, 2013). Some of these interventions include time banking, focus
groups, social events, and redesign of physical and architectural structures to maxi-
mize social interactions.
One proven way to increase levels of social capital in communities has come from
the practices of time banking and community currency (Lietaer, 2004). Both of these
systems provide incentives or rewards for those who volunteer; in exchange for an
hour of labor in a communal garden or at a school, for example, participants can
receive an hour of moving aid or currency (such as Ithaca Dollars) redeemable at local
merchants. By drawing out local residents who may otherwise not have volunteered
and then connecting them with local small-scale merchants this approach creates a
“virtuous cycle.” One study of 160 participants found both physical and mental health
improvement from involvement in a time banking program (Lasker et al., 2011).
Another study of community currency in a town in Japan found that “community cur-
rency involvement increases general trust, which demonstrates that it is possible to
institute government programs that create social capital” (Richey, 2007, p. 69). Several
disaster-affected communities including Onagawa, Japan, and Lyttleton, New Zealand,
have adopted community currency programs or time banking systems and have
claimed strong material and mental health benefits as a result (Aldrich site visit to
communities, 2013).
A second way to increase trust and social cohesion comes from focus group meet-
ings and social events; this approach includes general social activities such as parades,
fairs, and block parties along with moderator-led discussions of topics such as the
environment and school choice (Aldrich, 2010). Field experiments in Nicaragua and
South Africa have demonstrated that regular meetings of neighborhood-level groups
can create higher levels of trust not only in group participants but in society as a whole
(Brune & Bossert, 2009; Pronyk et al., 2008). One small town affected by a tornado
adopted various community volunteering projects such as a community garden and a
mentoring program along with children’s activities including local sports leagues and
after school programs (Meyer site visit, 2014). Similarly, the Neighborhood
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10 American Behavioral Scientist
Empowerment Network in San Francisco brings neighbors and stakeholders together
to develop plans and actions for disaster preparedness and response (http://www. Other programs, such as the Texas Target Cities initiative from Texas
A&M University, utilize academics’ expertise to engage community and organiza-
tional leaders in collaborative emergency planning activities. In Seattle, Emergency
Managers and the Department of Neighborhoods joined to create Community
Emergency Hubs in the existing community gardens as organizing spaces to provide
disaster information, food and water, and preparedness training to the local commu-
nity. In Wellington, New Zealand, the local government provides funding for social
events to increase social trust and cohesion.
A final way to increase social capital is through the deliberate and careful planning of
community layout and architectural structures. The physical layout of communities,
neighborhoods, and even housing complexes affect creation and maintenance of social
capital. For example, interaction can occur in areas where residents can meet and spend
time—however short—together. One scholar labeled these meeting areas as “Third
Places” because they are not residential locations, which are private, or work spaces,
where specific activities are required (Oldenburg, 1999). Coffee shops, bookstores, bars,
hair salons, public squares, and libraries serve as third places for social capital to be gener-
ated and regenerated. Following the Tohoku disaster in Japan, many NGOs have worked
to create spaces where displaced residents can socialize (e.g.,
Other environmental effects on social capital include incorporating spaces or activities
that encourage community members to participate in their maintenance. The classic
example is Ostrom’s (1990) common pool resources thesis, in which years of working
together to maintain a harbor created informal social mechanisms that prevented overhar-
vesting by any one member. Another example comes from Newman’s (1996) Defensible
Space approach to city planning in which urban communities are reorganized so that resi-
dents have control over the areas around their homes, including lobbies, streets, and
grounds. Such communities where residents feel connected to their space and to their
neighbors have lower rates of crime and higher levels of bridging social capital.
This article has sought to draw attention to an underutilized resource that strongly
influences resilience at the communal level, namely, social capital. Decision makers
continue to spend money on physical infrastructure and urge residents to prepare in
purely materialistic ways, for example, having 3 days of food and water. While these
preparations are important, creating strong ties with neighbors, knowing the name of
the block captain or local fire chief, and having experience working together with local
NGOs could prove equally—if not more—important in crisis, and with rising eco-
nomic inequality are vital to supporting vulnerable populations in disaster. Given that
social capital, like other forms of capital, can be generated or degraded, our focus as
individuals and as a nation should turn toward enhancing our social cohesion and
deepening trust in our communities. With the potential for bonding social capital to
reinforce patterns of discrimination, though, decision makers should invest in
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Aldrich and Meyer 11
programs that build bridges across groups in communities and up to those in authority
(Aldrich & Sawada 2014). By seeking to build up connections within and among resi-
dents, such preparation will provide neighborhoods and communities with critical
resilience in future crises.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of
this article.
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Author Biographies
Daniel P. Aldrich received his PhD and MA in political science from Harvard University, an
MA from the University of California at Berkeley, and his BA from the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has authored and/or edited three books (Site Flights, Cornell
University Press; Building Resilience, University of Chicago Press; and Resilience and
Recovery, Springer) along with more than 25 peer-reviewed articles in journals such as the
British Journal of Political Science, Public Administration Review, and Perspectives on Politics
along with multiple OpEds in the New York Times, CNN, and the Asahi Shinbun. His main areas
of interest involve social cohesion, controversial facilities, and disaster recovery.
Michelle A. Meyer, PhD, is an assistant professor of Sociology at Louisiana State University.
She completed a post-doc at the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A&M
University and her PhD in sociology at Colorado State University where her dissertation
research focused on the role of social capital and collective efficacy in individual and commu-
nity resilience and social vulnerability in hurricane-prone communities. She has worked on a
variety of projects related to disasters and environmental sociology including a NSF grant com-
paring rural disaster recovery after a technological and a natural disaster; assessing hazard miti-
gation in Atlantic and Gulf Coast jurisdictions; analyzing the inclusion of disability in U.S.
disaster plans; among many others. Her research interests include disaster resilience and mitiga-
tion, climate change displacement, environmental sociology and community sustainability, and
the interplay between environmental conditions and social vulnerability.
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... Briefly illustrated from the results of field findings show that bonding social capital describes relationships with fellow farmer group members in RW 03 Cempaka Putih Timur. According to Adler & Kwon (2002), bonding social capital is a relationship between individuals who are very emotionally close, such as friends or family, and produce strong bonds in certain groups (Aldrich & Meyer, 2015). The relationship between individuals is emotionally illustrated through closeness in farmer groups where the majority are family, friends, and residents who have long lived in the area, to further strengthen these emotional relationships the closeness of farmer groups is also illustrated by regular meetings of members, mutual assistance, cooperation, division of tasks, mutual trust, mutual assistance, and decision-making involvement. ...
... This can be seen from the connection of RW 03 bangun farmer groups with consumers who have a wider network from various backgrounds and various organizations. This is in line with the opinion of (Aldrich & Meyer, 2015) that bridging social capital stems from the involvement of organizations, including civic and political institutions, parent-teacher associations, and sports clubs, and shared interests with educational and religious groups. Judging from the field findings, RW 03 farmer groups build connections with consumers who have a great involvement in supporting the sustainability of farmer groups in RW 03, because not only as consumers they also participate in expanding activities of urban farming, thus adding new consumer connections. ...
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This research discusses the development of social capital for farmer groups based on urban farming in RW 03 Cempaka Putih Timur. This research aims to describe the process of developing bonding social capital of farmer groups, the benefits of bonding in building bonding relationships with consumers, and linking social capital to the government or companies. This research uses a qualitative approach with a descriptive design, by conducting observations and in-depth interviews with 25 informants selected using a purposive sampling technique. The results of this research show that the process of developing bonding social capital describes the relationship between farmer groups and their members which begins with the existence of common goals and relationships between members of the farmer group who have emotional closeness. Bridging the social capital of the farmer group describes the relationship between the farmer group and the RW 03 community, non-members of the farmer group, visiting guests, assisted groups, and people outside RW 03 who are consumers. Linking social capital describes relations with local governments, LH Sub-Department, KPKP Sub-department, Companies, Districts, Villages, Rukun Warga (RW) and Rukun Tetangga (RT). Forms of social capital in farmer groups are strengthened by networks that arise from trust so that the exchange of needed resources occurs. Obligations and expectations as well as norms support bonding social capital in strengthening relationships between farmer groups. Positive sanctions support linking social capital by providing rewards that can increase the motivation and commitment of farmer group members.
... Summarizing the current challenges and ongoing disaster humanitarian works for preparation and recovery efforts are common dynamic data sources. Other sources include historical data from public agencies, weather stations, social networking sites, and mass media (Aldrich & Meyer, 2015). ...
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COP26 focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are the major source of climate change. Natural and man-made disasters have occurred in recent years, resulting in human deaths and environmental degradation. To mitigate the harm caused by these catastrophes, governments and their administration need to locate and support victims and provide coordinated relief operations at disaster areas in real-time. Promising developments in information and communications technology (ICT) can aid in many stages of disaster management. Scientific examination of the disaster management literature is essential to understand the domain's general structure and evolution to ensure disaster resilience. Therefore, this study intends to explore the role of information technology (IT) in disaster management and resilience in light of COP26 and the existing literature. The PRISMA (preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses) approach has been applied to reveal the most relevant documents, with a narrative review approach used to interpret the nexus from the existing literature. This study, after identifying the 28 most relevant documents from the Scopus database, argues that ICT has potential roles in prevention and preparedness before disasters occur, and in the recovery and response phases of disaster management. The study also identifies a few major technologies, such as big data, the global information system (GIS), artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and advanced robotics that may help in managing disasters. The study also argues that ICT contributes to building the adaptive, absorptive, and transformative capacity of the community and humanitarian stakeholders to enhance disaster resilience. An effective data-driven disaster management program can help vulnerable communities worldwide.
... HRD's deep and varied roots can be traced back to nearly every group, community, and society across human history-all who provided apprenticeship, facilitated group and individual learning, and shared aims toward critical societal tasks and outcomes (see Aldrich & Meyer, 2015;Graeber & Wengrow, 2022). HRD has long been considered to engage research, theory, and practice-focused praxis (Swanson & Holton, 2005;Woodall, 2001). ...
... From the perspective of social-ecological resilience, which puts forward the concept of resilience as a nonequilibrium notion, there are important links to participation and self-organisation that are common to community resilience and the social capital theories of resilience [18,19]. These concepts focus on the networked sets of capacities that a community or organisation can generate, in order to be(come) resilient [20]. ...
Full-text available
Background Prompted by recent shocks and stresses to health systems globally, various studies have emerged on health system resilience. Our aim is to describe how health system resilience is operationalised within empirical studies and previous reviews. We compare these to the core conceptualisations and characteristics of resilience in a broader set of domains (specifically, engineering, socio-ecological, organisational and community resilience concepts), and trace the different schools, concepts and applications of resilience across the health literature. Methods We searched the Pubmed database for concepts related to ‘resilience’ and ‘health systems’. Two separate analyses were conducted for included studies: a total of n = 87 empirical studies on health system resilience were characterised according to part of health systems covered, type of threat, resilience phase, resilience paradigm, and approaches to building resilience; and a total of n = 30 reviews received full-text review and characterised according to type of review, resilience concepts identified in the review, and theoretical framework or underlying resilience conceptualisation. Results The intersection of health and resilience clearly has gained importance in the academic discourse with most papers published since 2018 in a variety of journals and in response to external threats, or in reference to more frequent hospital crisis management. Most studies focus on either resilience of health systems generally (and thereby responding to an external shock or stress), or on resilience within hospitals (and thereby to regular shocks and operations). Less attention has been given to community-based and primary care, whether formal or informal. While most publications do not make the research paradigm explicit, ‘resilience engineering’ is the most prominent one, followed by ‘community resilience’ and ‘organisational resilience’. The social-ecological systems roots of resilience find the least application, confirming our findings of the limited application of the concept of transformation in the health resilience literature. Conclusions Our review shows that the field is fragmented, especially in the use of resilience paradigms and approaches from non-health resilience domains, and the health system settings in which these are used. This fragmentation and siloed approach can be problematic given the connections within and between the complex and adaptive health systems, ranging from community actors to local, regional, or national public health organisations to secondary care. Without a comprehensive definition and framework that captures these interdependencies, operationalising, measuring and improving resilience remains challenging.
... These findings corroborate previous studies [88][89][90] Climate shocks often affect the country, with severe droughts followed by heavy floods expected to become a norm. These shocks ultimately reduce the amount of agricultural land and decrease crop productivity [91][92][93]. The lowlands are more susceptible to flooding caused by river overflows [94]. ...
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Background: Earthquake disaster preparedness in schools is an effective, adaptable, and long-lasting approach to disseminating disaster education. Undoubtedly, systematic, quantifiable, and effective measures to increase the capacity of school community members will lessen the impact of catastrophe risk in schools. Aim: To evaluate the effect of using a simulation strategy on preparatory school students' earthquake preparedness. Design: A quasi-experimental design pre-and post-tests were utilized. Setting: The study was carried out at El-Shaheed Ahmed Bahaget Preparatory School in Damanhour. Sample: A multi-stage stratified sample consists of 60 preparatory students. Data collection tools: The student's personal data questionnaire, preparatory school students' knowledge regarding preparedness for earthquakes, and preparatory school students' skills during and after the earthquake were implemented. Results: There was a highly significant improvement in preparatory school students' knowledge regarding earthquakes in the post-simulation than pre-simulation. Moreover, there was a significant improvement in preparatory school students' preparedness for earthquakes in the post-simulation than pre-simulation. Conclusion: Using the simulation strategy improved preparatory school students' earthquake preparedness. Recommendations: All children of different ages should be included in disaster preparedness programs. Innovative methods should be widely used to educate children about disasters.
While the majority of adults across the United States report that they believe that global warming is happening, far fewer report discussing global warming (Howe et al., 2015, ; Marlon et al., 2022,‐data/ycom‐us/ ). One way to inspire further climate action and engagement is to increase individuals' capacity to confidently and effectively discuss climate change. Climate communication science highlights that such communication is most effective when it is anecdotal, narrative, tailored to the audience, and place‐based. To generate climate conversations and inspire action in a variety of communities, partners at the University of Minnesota Extension piloted a program to train community members from across the state of Minnesota in effective climate communication through a series of instructional workshops, coaching, and participant‐led communication activities. Following the training portion of the program, participants identified and hosted their own climate‐related communication activities in their communities. These “climate conversations” took place across Minnesota and included community events, dialogue with elected leaders, and conversations stimulated through literature, among other activities. In their communities, program participants sparked conversations, initiated long‐term climate action efforts, and improved their sense of efficacy in response to climate change. Participants also reported that they improved their climate conversation skills, increased their local climate knowledge, established a support network with fellow participants, had reduced anxiety around communicating, and increased their confidence in being able to communicate about climate change in their communities. This pilot program provides a framework for future cohort‐ and community‐based climate communication programs in the state and beyond.
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This prospective longitudinal study examined stress-mediating potentials of 3 types of social support: social embeddedness, perceived support from nonkin, and perceived support from kin. As participants in a statewide panel study, 222 older adults were interviewed once before and twice after a severe flood. It was hypothesized that disaster exposure (stress) would influence depression directly and indirectly, through deterioration of social support. LISREL analyses indicated that postdisaster declines in social embeddedness and nonkin support mediated the immediate and delayed impact of disaster stress. No evidence was found for the mediational role of kin support. Findings are in accord with conceptualizations of social support as an entity reflecting dynamic transactions among individuals, their social networks, and environmental pressures.
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Disasters by Design provides an alternative and sustainable way to view, study, and manage hazards in the United States that would result in disaster-resilient communities, higher environmental quality, inter- and intragenerational equity, economic sustainability, and improved quality of life. This volume provides an overview of what is known about natural hazards, disasters, recovery, and mitigation, how research findings have been translated into policies and programs; and a sustainable hazard mitigation research agenda. Also provided is an examination of past disaster losses and hazards management over the past 20 years, including factors--demographic, climate, social--that influence loss. This volume summarizes and sets the stage for the more detailed books in the series.
This article investigates the utility of a social capital approach for explaining household awareness of what to do in a disaster in the context of long-term threats. Using data from a household survey in Dominica, it assesses how the concepts and measures for two variants of social capita—relational and community—can be used to explain three separate awareness outcomes. Results demonstrate the relevance of both relational and community social capital tools for disaster research. Each type of social capital was found to be significantly related to a different awareness outcome. Further, although there was no evidence of a different effect of relational social capital across outcomes, there were significant differences between the effects of community social capital on awareness of protective measures, knowledge of what to take to a shelter, and familiarity with disaster committee responsibilities.
This research, which was conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, draws on 50 in-depth interviews with displaced single mothers and disaster relief providers in Colorado. Government agencies and charitable organizations offered various resources and services to Katrina evacuees, including food, clothing, emergency shelter, temporary housing, transportation, employment assistance, temporary childcare, school enrollment assistance, and health care. This study illustrates that there was close alignment between resources provided by disaster response organizations and resources needed by displaced single mothers. Yet, despite the considerable overlap, the single mothers in this study experienced many recovery-related difficulties associated with accessing available resources. In particular, single mothers 1) were often unaware of available resources; 2) experienced a conjunction of many different, pressing needs; 3) suffered a loss of their informal social safety net; 4) encountered numerous bureaucratic obstacles in accessing aid; and 5) often felt mistreated and stigmatized. These barriers to accessing resources heightened the vulnerability of single mother headed households.
Despite the tremendous destruction wrought by catastrophes, social science holds few quantitative assessments of explanations for the rate of recovery. This article illuminates four factors - damage, population density, human capital, and economic capital - thought to explain the variation in the pace of population recovery following disaster along with the popular but relatively untested factor of social capital. Using time-series cross-sectional models and propensity score matching, I test these approaches using new data from the rebuilding of 39 neighborhoods in Tokyo after its 1923 earthquake. Social capital, more than earthquake damage, population density, human capital, or economic capital, best predicts population recovery in post-quake Tokyo. These findings suggest new approaches for research on social capital and disasters along with public policy avenues for handling catastrophe.
Social capital theorists have shown that inequality arises in part because some people enjoy larger, more supportive, or otherwise more useful networks. But why do some people have better networks than others? This book argues that the answer lies less in people's deliberate "networking" than in the institutional conditions of the churches, colleges, firms, gyms, and other organizations in which they happen to participate routinely. This book introduces a model of social inequality that takes seriously the embeddedness of networks in formal organizations, proposing that what people gain from their connections depends on where those connections are formed and sustained. The model is illustrated and developed through a study of the experiences of mothers whose children were enrolled in New York City childcare centers. As a result of the routine practices and institutional conditions of the centers - from the structure of their parents' associations, to apparently innocuous rules such as pick-up and drop-off times - many of these mothers dramatically increased their social capital and measurably improved their wellbeing. Yet how much they gained depended on how their respective centers were organized. This book identifies the mechanisms through which childcare centers structured the networks of mothers, and shows that similar mechanisms operate in many other routine organizations, from beauty salons and bath houses to colleges and churches. The book makes a case for the importance of organizational embeddedness in the study of personal ties.