I propose a new disaster mitigation and recovery paradigm centered on social resources and social networks, rather than on states and markets. Social science has underscored social capital’s role in creating effective governance structures and common-pool resource-management mechanisms, determining health and wellness outcomes and lowering crime. Rather than centering recovery plans on external resources or governmental authorities, my approach builds on this growing body of research to illuminate the internal characteristics of the affected community as a critical factor in resilience. Neighborhoods and wards with deeper reservoirs of social capital can effectively mobilize, coordinate, and overcome collective-action problems to better recover after catastrophe. As social capital—like other types of capital—can be increased through both local activities and external interventions, decision makers should seek to increase levels of trustworthiness and connection in susceptible communities. As in other endeavors, though, social capital acts like a “double-edged sword” in that it can bring with it negative externalities for peripheral groups. Scholars and decision makers alike need to reorient their thinking toward the social networks within affected and vulnerable regions.
That is from a newly published essay by Daniel Aldrich in the new issue of Perspectives on Politics. The journal has made this essay available to non-subscribers here. Here is my previous post on Daniel’s work.