Communication in a Post-Disaster Community: The Struggle to Access Social Capital

Donald Matheson, Annalee Jones


This article conceptualizes social capital in communicative terms to describe the social resources available to members of one suburb in Christchurch, New Zealand, as they seek to recover from a natural disaster. It notes how communicative social capital was distributed unequally and frequently experienced as in deficit or as inaccessible. The idea of community was a powerful focal point for residents, but there was little evidence that social connectedness at this level provided the resources for civic engagement more generally. The idea of the city that arose out of people’s shared ideals and investment in collective civic institutions appeared to be still broken three years on from the initial disaster.


social capital, communicative social capital, disaster recovery, Christchurch earthquakes

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