‘Enacting Some Kind Of New Structure’: How Collaborating and Self-organising During Disaster Response and Recovery in Tandem can Transform and Improve Communities Adapting

Petra Buergelt, Anna Williams, Jacki Schirmer, Douglas Paton

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Otherpeer-review

Abstract

Considering the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, major intergovernmental agencies have highlighted the importance of cultivating adaptive capacity (AC) to increase community resilience. While researchers have quantitatively studied AC focusing on diverse individual and/or community capabilities, outcomes and resources, gaps remain in holistically understanding how these capabilities interact, emerge, are lost, or transformed over time in specific community contexts. This qualitative study draws upon the synergistic relationship between Complex Adaptive Systems Theory (CAS) and Symbolic Interactionism (SI) to explore AC as a process that emerged in an Australian community after the 2019/2020 Black Summer Fires. Using ethnography and grounded theory (GT) as methodologies, interviews were conducted with diverse residents from one Australian town that was heavily impacted during the fires. The grounded theory that arose revealed that community members participating in, witnessing of, and benefitting from community-led collaborative processes allowed the community to enact a new structure that transformed their lives and functioning. Through collaborating, participants reported transformations in their beliefs that people are essentially kind (human good), that they weren’t helpless (self/ collective efficacy), and that they can work together . Collaborating was supported by pre-existing individual and community capabilities and resources that were activated during and after the fires. Transformations in beliefs, attitudes and feelings were central to improving community cohesion and further developing AC, ultimately building resilience. The findings expand upon existing research into social capital and social cohesion, and their links to AC, by providing one example of a latent process that underpins them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages1-1
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventHealthy Environments and Lives (HEAL) 2023 Conference - Collective Action for Health, Environment and Climate - Hybrid - online and across Australia
Duration: 14 Nov 202316 Nov 2023
https://healnetwork.org.au/heal-conferences/heal-2023-conference/

Conference

ConferenceHealthy Environments and Lives (HEAL) 2023 Conference - Collective Action for Health, Environment and Climate
Period14/11/2316/11/23
Internet address

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