Hurricane evacuation failure: the role of social cohesion, social capital, and social control Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Horney, Jennifer A.
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Epidemiology
  • Existing research of evacuation behavior during hurricanes and flooding has focused primarily on individual demographic characteristics to understand why some households evacuate at higher rates than others. However, social factors such as access to social capital, levels of social control, and the extent of social cohesion also play a role in evacuation behavior. We hypothesize that the strength and direction of the associations between evacuation and personal and environmental attributes depend on social factors. The association of these social factors with evacuation may differ among different groups, particularly among highly integrated social groups. Analysis and interventions among sub-groups is necessary in order to better understand the impact of social factors on evacuation decision making and change evacuation behavior in the future. An awareness of the role of social factors and an acceptance of the limitations of demographic and socio-economic variables in predicting evacuation failure is a major step in a new direction for hurricane evacuation research. Issues of social vulnerability to natural hazards and the ability to respond and recover should also address factors beyond individual characteristics and include the characteristics of social groups. While social factors are generally considered to encourage evacuation, particularly for those with access to large networks and stocks of social capital, the potential for negative effects among certain groups are relatively unexamined. Our understanding of evacuation decision making is limited by its reliance on existing methods. The typical data collected following hurricanes has not resulted in generalizable theories of behavior and has for the most part lacked the theoretical framework and interdisciplinary nature of the project. While social resources may provide non-financial assets that can facilitate evacuation, these resources may lead to evacuation failure for some groups through downward leveling of norms, peer pressure, and other factors. While it is possible that improved planning, forecasting models, and educational messages can ease evacuations for many, these changes may not be robust enough to counteract the strength of social factors. Future interventions could take advantage of social factors to encourage protective behavior and empower local residents.
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  • Kaufman, Jay S.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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