Disasters and Resilience
The Politics of Natural Disasters for Oxford Bibliographies
Political scientists, sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, economists, and historians have studied disaster recovery, best practices in disaster response, the role of the government in rebuilding, and so forth. This annotated bibliography illuminates representative examples of the interdisciplinary work in this vast academic subfield. Most of the work that I have selected for inclusion comes from the end of the 20th century and early 21st century, but builds on the work of scholars such as Samuel Prince, who wrote about the 1917 Halifax harbor explosion three years later, and on mid-1950s and 1960s work sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. Sections include general overviews, centers and data sources, comparative approach, case studies of individual disasters, recovery, natural, man-made, and natural/technological disasters, mitigation, preparation, and insurance, vulnerabilities, evacuation, emergent groups, disaster myths and behavior, humanitarian response, governance during and after, social capital in disaster recovery, political outcomes, political and economic impact, temporary housing, and resilience.
Post-Crisis Japanese Nuclear Policy: From Top-down Directives to Bottom-up Activism published in East West Center Asia Pacific Issues No. 103 January 2012
Over the past fifty years, Japan has developed one of the most advanced commercial nuclear power programs in the world. This is largely due to the government’s broad repertoire of policy instruments that have helped further its nuclear power goals. These top-down directives have resulted in the construction of 54 plants and at least the appearance of widespread support for nuclear power. By the 1990s, however, this carefully cultivated public support was beginning to break apart. And following the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and resulting nuclear crisis in the Fukushima nuclear complex, the political and social landscape for energy in Japan has been dramatically altered. The crisis has raised and reinforced environmental concerns and health fears, as well as skepticism about information from government and corporate sources. A civil society that for decades has appeared weak and nonpartcipatory has awakened and citizens are carrying out bottom-up responses to the accident, effecting change with grassroots science and activism.
Future Fission: Why Japan Won’t Abandon Nuclear Power published in GlobalAsia
The nuclear plant disaster triggered by March’s earthquake and tsunami triggered soul-searching over its scale and the slow reaction. Some lay the blame on amakudari, a phrase describing the cozy relationship between Japanese government regulators and the industries they regulate. I explore these allegations and outline a range of reasons why Japan’s government will not waver from its commitment to champion nuclear energy.
The Tohoku Disaster: Crisis Windows, Complexity, and Social Capital published by the Social Science Research Council (with eBook version available here)
At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, known as the Higashi Nihon Daishinsai (Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster), struck roughly fifty miles off the coast of Japan’s mainland. While the Tohoku quake itself caused few fatalities, it set off a tsunami measuring up to forty-five-feet high, which not only devastated coastal and inland villages but also swamped the backup systems of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-reactor complex. This article investigates the disaster using several social science frames, including policy windows, complexity, and social capital.
Externalities of Strong Social Capital: Post Tsunami Recovery in Southeast Asia forthcoming in Journal of Civil Society
Much research has implied that social capital functions as an unqualified “public good,” enhancing governance, economic performance, and quality of life (Coleman 1988; Cohen and Arato 1992; Putnam 1993; Cohen and Rogers 1995). Scholars of disaster (Nakagawa and Shaw 2004; Adger et al. 2005; Dynes 2005; Tatsuki 2008) have extended this concept to posit that social capital provides nonexcludable benefits to whole communities after major crises. Using qualitative methods to analyze data from villages in Tamil Nadu, India following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, this paper demonstrates that high levels of social capital simultaneously provided strong benefits and equally strong negative externalities, especially to those already on the periphery of society. In these villages, high levels of social capital reduced barriers to collective action for members of the uur panchayats (hamlet councils) and parish councils, speeding up their recovery and connecting them to aid organizations, but at the same time reinforced obstacles to recovery for women, Dalits, migrants, and Muslims. These localized findings have important implications for academic studies of social capital and policy formation for future disasters and recovery schemes.
Social Science Perspectives on Disasters in Perspectives on Politics
In this extended review, I discuss three recent books on disaster: Governing after Crisis: The Politics of Investigation, Accountability, and Learning edited by Arjen Boin, Allan McConnell, and Paul ‘T Hart, Learning from Catastrophes: Strategies for Reaction and Response , edited by Howard Kunreuther and Micheel Useem, and The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters by Charles Perrow. All three books invoke the market and state as core forces at work in mitigation and disaster recovery, overlooking the critical role of social capital.
Separate and Unequal: Post-Tsunami Aid Distribution in Southern India published in Social Science Quarterly
Objective. Disasters are a regular occurrence throughout the world. Whether all eligible victims of a catastrophe receive similar amounts of aid from governments and donors following a crisis remains an open question. Methods. I use data on 62 similarly damaged inland fishing villages in five districts of southeastern India following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to measure the causal influence of caste, location, wealth, and bridging social capital on the receipt of aid. Using two-limit tobit and negative binomial models, I investigate the factors that influence the time spent in refugee camps, receipt of an initial aid packet, and receipt of 4,000 rupees. Results. Caste, family status, and wealth proved to be powerful predictors of beneficiaries and nonbeneficiaries during the aid process. Conclusion. While many scholars and practitioners envision aid distribution as primarily a technocratic process, this research shows that discrimination and financial resources strongly affect the flow of disaster aid.
The Power of People: Social Capital’s Role in Recovery from the 1995 Kobe Earthquake forthcoming in Natural Hazards
Despite the regularity of disasters, social science has only begun to generate replicable knowledge about the factors which facilitate post-crisis recovery. Building on the broad variation in recovery rates within disaster-affected cities, I investigate the ability of Kobe’s nine wards to repopulate after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan. This article uses case studies of neighborhoods in Kobe alongside new time-series, cross-sectional data set to test five variables thought to influence recovery along with the relatively untested factor of social capital. Controlling for damage, population density, economic conditions, inequality and other variables thought important in past research, social capital proves to be the strongest and most robust predictor of population recovery after catastrophe. This has important implications both for public policies focused on reconstruction and for social science more generally.
Fixing Recovery: Social Capital in Post-Crisis Resilience in The Journal of Homeland Security June 2010
Disasters remain among the most critical events which impact residents and their neighborhoods; they have killed far more individuals than high salience issues such as terrorism. Unfortunately, disaster recovery programs run by the United States and foreign governments have not been updated to reflect a new understanding of the essential nature of social capital and networks. I call for a re-orientation of disaster preparedness and recovery programs at all levels away from the standard fixes focused on physical infrastructure towards ones targeting social infrastructure. The reservoirs of social capital and the trust (or lack thereof) between citizens in disaster-affected communities can help us understand why some neighborhoods in cities like Kobe, Japan, Tamil Nadu, India, and New Orleans, Louisiana displayed resilience while others stagnated. Social capital – the engine for recovery – can be deepened both through local initiatives and interventions from foreign agencies.
Aldrich Presentation on 25 March 2010 BUILDING RESILIENCE conference
Despite the clear and present danger from disasters, social scientists have yet to provide strong, quantitative evidence about which factors influence the pace of recovery. Using data from four megadisasters over the 20th and 21st century – the 1923 Tokyo earthquake, the 1995 Kobe earthquake, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and the 2005 Hurricane Katrina – Aldrich argues that social infrastructure is the critical factor in recovery.
The Crucial Role of Civil Society in Disaster Recovery and Japan’s Preparedness for Emergencies in Japan aktuell 3/28
This article is concerned with the empirical puzzle of why certain neighborhoods and localities recover more quickly than others following disasters. It illuminates four mainstream theories of rehabilitation and resilience, and then investigates a neglected factor, namely the role of social networks and civil society. Initial analyses underscore the important role of trust and connectivity among local residents in the process of rebuilding. After examining the role of civil society in Japan’s preparedness for emergencies, the article concludes with some policy recommendations for governments and nongovernmental actors involved in disaster relief.
This paper, entitled the The Need for Comparative Research, was prepared for a conference at the Jamsetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management in February 2008, and sets out some initial ideas which have motivated this project.