Presentation Title

The Impact of Social Capital on the Recovery from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, Japan

Format of Presentation

15-minute lecture to be presented the Saturday of the conference

Abstract

The theories and ideas of social capital have been incorporated in various disciplines, but few studies have explored social capital’s role in disaster recovery. This presentation seeks to understand how social capital is integrated into the four phases of the disaster management cycle, specifically its function during the post-disaster recovery of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. By studying the recovery after such a devastating event other countries can learn and adapt from the strengths and weaknesses of Japanese response and recovery practices. Because the theories of social capital are applicable to a variety of hazards and academic disciplines, a wide range of literature from other fields was used in this project. Several texts on disaster management education were also referred to in the context of the Tohoku earthquake. The results conclude that social capital at the community level was vital to post-earthquake and tsunami recovery in Japanese cities, particularly in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures. Japanese engagement in social networks and mutual trust increased individual participation and mobility. Additionally, structural social capital (existing social networks and societal structures) and cognitive social capital (mutual trust, norms, and behavior) contributed to community resilience and regrowth in differing ways, but when they were both combined, recovery efficiency increased. To be better prepared for future disasters a more thorough analysis of the impacts of social capital should be considered. In conclusion, creating stronger social frameworks for communities would prove useful to both Japanese and international governments.

Department

Geography and Environmental Studies

Faculty Advisor

Tom Waldichuk

Keywords

Social Capital, disaster management cycle, recovery, Tohoku earthquake, structural and cognitive social capital

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The Impact of Social Capital on the Recovery from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, Japan

The theories and ideas of social capital have been incorporated in various disciplines, but few studies have explored social capital’s role in disaster recovery. This presentation seeks to understand how social capital is integrated into the four phases of the disaster management cycle, specifically its function during the post-disaster recovery of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. By studying the recovery after such a devastating event other countries can learn and adapt from the strengths and weaknesses of Japanese response and recovery practices. Because the theories of social capital are applicable to a variety of hazards and academic disciplines, a wide range of literature from other fields was used in this project. Several texts on disaster management education were also referred to in the context of the Tohoku earthquake. The results conclude that social capital at the community level was vital to post-earthquake and tsunami recovery in Japanese cities, particularly in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures. Japanese engagement in social networks and mutual trust increased individual participation and mobility. Additionally, structural social capital (existing social networks and societal structures) and cognitive social capital (mutual trust, norms, and behavior) contributed to community resilience and regrowth in differing ways, but when they were both combined, recovery efficiency increased. To be better prepared for future disasters a more thorough analysis of the impacts of social capital should be considered. In conclusion, creating stronger social frameworks for communities would prove useful to both Japanese and international governments.