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Moving from vulnerability to capability : the role of social capital for disaster risk and resilience

Törnros, Sara LU (2015) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20151
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Resilience, the ability to withstand or adapt to altered conditions, gets more important as the grave effects of climate change intensify. Individuals’ capacities to respond to disasters are strongly connected to their social capital (e.g. relationships and networks). The aim of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of this connection at a neighborhood level. In the first part of this paper, a theoretical analysis of the linkage between capacities for resilience and social capital is made and an analytical framework is developed to investigate this relationship further. The second part of the paper applies the framework to analyze this linkage in a case study of individuals living in Gröndal, Stockholm. Stockholm is chosen... (More)
Resilience, the ability to withstand or adapt to altered conditions, gets more important as the grave effects of climate change intensify. Individuals’ capacities to respond to disasters are strongly connected to their social capital (e.g. relationships and networks). The aim of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of this connection at a neighborhood level. In the first part of this paper, a theoretical analysis of the linkage between capacities for resilience and social capital is made and an analytical framework is developed to investigate this relationship further. The second part of the paper applies the framework to analyze this linkage in a case study of individuals living in Gröndal, Stockholm. Stockholm is chosen because it is predicted to be affected by climate change in the form of increased frequency of extreme weather, storms, floods, sea level rise, and heatwaves (Ekelund, 2007). Yet the city’s environmental department fails to address social capital in their climate action plan. Gröndal, a neighborhood in Stockholm, is particularly vulnerable as it is predicted to experience floods(Stockholms stad, 2014). This paper shows that it is not social capital per se that enhance capacities for disaster risk and resilience, but rather ‘enabling’ relationships. Enabling relationships, a concept developed throughout this paper, is a special type of social capital, which enables certain positive actions (e.g. support, changed behavior) that can help people to cope with disasters or adapt and transform in order to reduce negative effects from disasters. The results indicate that strong bonding ties (e.g. family groups, friend groups, and friendships with neighbors)promote capacities that make it easier for people to cope with hazards and recover from disasters. Relations with neighbors can enhance the capacities to be resilient as feelings of companionship and respect can encourage people to help each other and develop enabling relationships. A lack of enabling bridging ties was evident, which contributes to a lack of adaptive and transformative actions. The results also indicate a high dependence on electricity-based information and communication and a lack of awareness of contingency plans. Thus, there is a need to inform people about how they should act if disasters occur and to develop non-electricity based information and communication tools, as electricity might be compromised during disasters. Because social capital can create enabling relationships that enhance resilience within a community, disaster programs should target the social infrastructure within communities in order to be effective. (Less)
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author
Törnros, Sara LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20151
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
sustainability science, adaptation, capacities, floods, climate change
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2015:022
language
English
id
5473775
date added to LUP
2015-06-23 13:41:30
date last changed
2015-06-23 13:41:30
@misc{5473775,
  abstract     = {Resilience, the ability to withstand or adapt to altered conditions, gets more important as the grave effects of climate change intensify. Individuals’ capacities to respond to disasters are strongly connected to their social capital (e.g. relationships and networks). The aim of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of this connection at a neighborhood level. In the first part of this paper, a theoretical analysis of the linkage between capacities for resilience and social capital is made and an analytical framework is developed to investigate this relationship further. The second part of the paper applies the framework to analyze this linkage in a case study of individuals living in Gröndal, Stockholm. Stockholm is chosen because it is predicted to be affected by climate change in the form of increased frequency of extreme weather, storms, floods, sea level rise, and heatwaves (Ekelund, 2007). Yet the city’s environmental department fails to address social capital in their climate action plan. Gröndal, a neighborhood in Stockholm, is particularly vulnerable as it is predicted to experience floods(Stockholms stad, 2014). This paper shows that it is not social capital per se that enhance capacities for disaster risk and resilience, but rather ‘enabling’ relationships. Enabling relationships, a concept developed throughout this paper, is a special type of social capital, which enables certain positive actions (e.g. support, changed behavior) that can help people to cope with disasters or adapt and transform in order to reduce negative effects from disasters. The results indicate that strong bonding ties (e.g. family groups, friend groups, and friendships with neighbors)promote capacities that make it easier for people to cope with hazards and recover from disasters. Relations with neighbors can enhance the capacities to be resilient as feelings of companionship and respect can encourage people to help each other and develop enabling relationships. A lack of enabling bridging ties was evident, which contributes to a lack of adaptive and transformative actions. The results also indicate a high dependence on electricity-based information and communication and a lack of awareness of contingency plans. Thus, there is a need to inform people about how they should act if disasters occur and to develop non-electricity based information and communication tools, as electricity might be compromised during disasters. Because social capital can create enabling relationships that enhance resilience within a community, disaster programs should target the social infrastructure within communities in order to be effective.},
  author       = {Törnros, Sara},
  keyword      = {sustainability science,adaptation,capacities,floods,climate change},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Moving from vulnerability to capability : the role of social capital for disaster risk and resilience},
  year         = {2015},
}