Previous posts have referenced the work of Daniel Aldrich, specifically his new book: Building Resilience: Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery. Thursday afternoon Dr. Aldrich was interviewed on Talk of the Nation.
In the 17 minute interview and in his book Dr. Aldrich tells great stories. For an example of his more scholarly work check out The Crucial Role of Civil Society in Disaster Recovery and Japan’s Preparedness for Emergencies (2008)
In an August 29 Op-Ed in the New York Times, Dr. Aldrich explains:
In August 2005, my wife and our small children and I evacuated to Houston just before the storm destroyed the New Orleans home we had moved into six weeks earlier. We took with us just a bag of toys and a suitcase. We applied for federal aid, but especially in the immediate aftermath, it was family, friends and friends-of-friends who came through for us.
As a political scientist (I taught at Tulane at the time), I decided to study how communities respond to natural disasters. I’ve concluded that the density and strength of social networks are the most important variables — not wealth, education or culture — in determining their resilience in the face of catastrophe.
Aldrich gives attention to both informal networks and more formal civil society. His evidence suggests both are needed to maximize resilience.
In a June 2011 paper on the outcomes of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami Dr. Aldrich argues, “Neighborhoods and communities where individuals can overcome collective-action problems, promote “voice,”not “exit,” and provide each other with informal insurance and mutual assistance are the ones that recover the most quickly.”