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A Conceptual Framework to Enhance Community Resilience Using Social Capital


Community resilience has been recognized and promoted as both a vision and a strategy for disaster management. This paper establishes the importance of community resilience in disaster management, describes disaster management phases and the disaster system of care, reviews definitions and dimensions of community resilience and related foundational concepts (social groups, social networks, and social capital), and endorses a conceptual framework for enhancing community resilience through social capital. Resilience, both personal and community resilience, is increased by the social capital that emerges from improved social connections and social networks. Effective disaster management, which requires an informed and engaged public, relies on social networks to connect and support individuals, families, groups, and organizations within the community and to link the community with the disaster system of care. Community disaster teams can identify and engage in activities that promote personal and community resilience, and the team process itself can create social capital that also advances personal and community resilience. The enhancement framework advocated in this paper focuses on the role of social capital in augmenting community resilience derived from people’s interactions in groups, social networks, and teams.

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Betty Pfefferbaum, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of Medicine, and Terrorism and Disaster Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Richard L. Van Horn, Terrorism and Disaster Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Rose L. Pfefferbaum, Department of Economics, Phoenix Community College, Phoenix, Arizona, and Terrorism and Disaster Center, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This work was supported in part by the Terrorism and Disaster Center (TDC), located at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. TDC is a partner in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) which is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. DHHS). All authors disclose no relationships that may be perceived as a conflict of interest. The findings, conclusions, opinions, and contents of this article are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of NCTSN, OUHSC, SAMHSA, TDC, or the U.S. DHHS.

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Correspondence to Betty Pfefferbaum.

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Pfefferbaum, B., Van Horn, R.L. & Pfefferbaum, R.L. A Conceptual Framework to Enhance Community Resilience Using Social Capital. Clin Soc Work J 45, 102–110 (2017).

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  • Community resilience
  • Disaster management
  • Resilience
  • Social capital
  • Social networks
  • Teams