A ''social biopsy'' of social process and personal responses in recovery from natural disaster

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Gordon, R. 2008 A ''social biopsy'' of social process and personal responses in recovery from natural disaster. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2008/09 11 p.

Abstract: A series of community-based interviews was conducted about one year after information meetings in three Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand flood-affected communities, (Waiotahi, Awatapu and Matata). The interviews were considered as “social biopsies” of recovery. Interview material was categorised to reveal evidence of the influence of social processes in the effectiveness of recovery, and maintenance of community members’ capacity for cognitive activity such as integrating information, planning and problem solving. Social processes decisive affected them by provoking disorganising emotions or creating an environment supporting social and personal recovery. The personal and social interventions undertaken in Matata had both positive and negative outcomes; however, in some cases they provoked disorganising emotions. Conclusions and recommendations for recovery policy emphasise the importance of the role played by stress in disrupting the ability to tackle problems of recovery and manage emotional responses. Providing increased social support in the aftermath, designing social communication processes to support people’s understanding and decision-making and the availability of a fund of collective knowledge about recovery were identified as important recovery resources. (auth)