Journal of Community Health

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 797–810 | Cite as

Community Under Stress: Trust, Reciprocity, and Community Collective Efficacy During SARS Outbreak

  • Eric FongEmail author
  • Ly-yun Chang
Original Paper


The study of epidemics is almost non-existent in sociological literature, even though such outbreaks can have detrimental effects on communities. The occurrence of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003 provides a rare opportunity to understand the social functioning of a community during the outbreak of an epidemic. To evaluate the extensive social impact of such an outbreak, we focus on the effects of perceived collective efficacy. Specifically, we focus on how the collective efficacy of a community, measured by trust and reciprocal relations, is related to collective action in places where SARS occurred and those where SARS did not occur. The study is based on a unique data set, the 2003 Taiwan Social Image Survey, collected during the outbreak of SARS in Taiwan. Our findings show that community collective efficacy, measured by trust and reciprocity, is not associated with community collective action when an outbreak of an epidemic occurs.


Epidemic outbreak Community efficacy Response 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Institute of SociologyAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan

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