Communities in disasters: Helpless or helping?

Aiko Takazawa, Kate Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Development faces the challenge of an unexpected rise in disasters of all kinds. Prompted by two popular books about disasters (Klein 2007; Solnit 2009), we review the North American scholarly literature on disasters to answer three questions. Practically, how do local communities respond to disasters? Theoretically, what is the relationship between local social networks and disaster response/recovery? For policy, whom should we count on to carry this out? The primary finding is that communities, however devastated, are not helpless, but helping, and in particular stages. Outside social forces can help, but disregarding local networks and processes impedes disaster response/recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-440
Number of pages12
JournalPerspectives on Global Development and Technology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011


  • agency
  • community informatics
  • disaster response and recovery
  • social cohesion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Education
  • Development
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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