Social capital in post-disaster recovery trajectories: Insights from a longitudinal study of tsunami-impacted small-scale fisher organizations in Chile

Increased likelihood and severity of coastal disasters in the 21st century represent major threats forcoastal communities’ resource management capacity and livelihoods. Disaster research has frequentlylooked for singular factors explaining why some communities are more resilient and better equipped tocope with and recover from disasters. This study draws on Chile’s 2010 tsunami to evaluate the effects ofboth internal (social capital) and external (level of damage and isolation) factors onfishing communities’ recovery trajectories. Using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) we assess how the concurrency of conditions explains fisher organization responses. By operationalizing social capital as the social networks developed for co-management, we also evaluate whether social capital developed for naturalresource management can help communities overcome post-disaster challenges. Results show that thelevel of linking social capital is critical in determining post-disaster trajectories. While maintained orincreasing levels of social capital are indispensable for positive trajectories to occur, a commondenominator for less desirable post-disaster recovery trajectories is a low or reduced level of socialcapital. However, external factors, such as the amount of damage and geographical isolation, are alsoimportant in determining recovery trajectories, indicating the limits of relying solely on social relationsfor recovery. These concurrent factors can amplify or reduce the importance of supportive relationships.Understanding the implications of complex interplay between social capital and external factors forcommunity recovery in response to coastal disasters can inform the design of more effective and efficientresponses and policies in Chile and more broadly. Furthermore, social capital developed for the purposeof co-management of natural resources can actually promote desirable post-disaster trajectories.

Keywords: Coastal disasters, Livelihoods, Longitudinal, Social networks, Qualitative comparative analysis, Human dimensions, Tsunami

Citation: Marín, A., Ö. Bodin, S. Gelcich, B. Crona. 2015 Global Environmental Change 35:450-462

Social capital in post-disaster recovery trajectories: Insights from a longitudinal study of tsunami-impacted small-scale fisher organizations in Chile

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