Household disaster preparedness: assessing the importance of relational and community social capital Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Brunie, Aurélie
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of City and Regional Planning
  • Household preparedness can help save lives and curtail staggering losses from natural disasters around the world. Finding ways to promote preparedness has become urgent in developing countries, which bear an increasingly disproportionate share of losses. Social capital reflects the quality of human relationships and may provide a useful resource to encourage households to prepare before it is too late. This study examines the influence of social capital on three aspects of household disaster preparedness: awareness of protective measures, knowledge of evacuation procedures and familiarity with response agencies. Two theoretical approaches to social capital are considered at the household-level: 1) relational social capital reflects the resources embedded in personal networks and is defined by resource composition, resource diversity and kinship composition; and 2) community social capital refers to the features of social organization (e.g., networks, norms and social trust) that promote cooperation within a group. Government representatives, civil society organizations in charge of disaster preparedness and community and household characteristics are also posited to influence household preparedness. Key informant interviews and a 182-household survey in 6 villages in Dominica in the Caribbean were used to assess the influence of relational and community social capital for locally-relevant measures of the three aspects of household preparedness. Results were analyzed for each outcome using logistic regression. The study.s key findings support that social capital enhances household preparedness and that this influence is moderate to strong relative to other factors. The effects of relational and community social capital, however, are distinct and furthermore vary across aspects of preparedness. Moreover, only resource diversity and to some extent kinship composition prove valuable characteristics of social networks. Diverse and kin-centered networks are valuable for awareness of protective measures. Networks with more diversity further enhance knowledge of evacuation procedures. Community social capital, on the other hand, improves familiarity with response agencies. In addition to emphasizing the importance of relationships among people for disaster preparedness, this study provides much needed empirical evidence contrasting two widely-used approaches to social capital. Relational and community social capital correspond to different types of human interactions and have a different utility.
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  • Berke, Philip
  • Open access

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