Regrowing Uprooted Social Networks

  • Virgil Henry Storr
  • Stefanie Haeffele-Balch
  • Laura E. Grube
Part of the Perspectives from Social Economics book series (PSE)


In addition to providing needed goods and services after a disaster, entrepreneurs repurpose existing social networks and help community members restore and replace social networks that were disrupted by the disaster. Recall that social networks play a key role in helping individuals recover from disasters but that disasters can disrupt and destroy those networks. For disaster victims, social networks can be a source of financial resources, emotional support, mutual assistance, and information about how to navigate the challenges of the post-disaster environment. In the language that we introduced in chapter 3, entrepreneurs that restore disrupted social networks and facilitate the creation of new social networks increase the probability that others will return and lower the cost of returning by giving the victims access to mutual assistance.


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  1. 1.
    See Storr (“The Market as a Social Space: On the Meaningful Extra-Economic Conversations That Can Occur in Markets,” Review of Austrian Economics 21, no. 2–3 (2008): 135–150) for a more in-depth examination of how commercial interactions can turn into tighter social bonds. See also Chamlee-Wright and Storr (“Commercial Relationships and Spaces after Disaster,” Society 51, no. 6 (2014): 656–664) for the social bonds of commercial endeavors in the post-disaster context.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    This ad hoc evacuation heightened the collective action problem that disaster victims had to overcome to bring about community rebound. As Weber and Peek (eds., Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012): 11) continue, “these separations not only were emotionally traumatic, but also caused severe material and financial stress among families already living at the margins of poverty. Indeed, more often than not, the families separated by government relocation efforts had previously survived by pooling resources generated through extensive kin networks. Breaking up these networks left these evacuees with few alternatives for reuniting with their families or returning to the Gulf Coast.”Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    The Clinton Global Initiative and the Carnegie Corporation of New York donated $5 million in 2007 for the rebuilding of the Keller Library and other community foundations. The Surdna Foundation provided a total of $175,000 in 2007 and 2008 to support the efforts of the Broadmoor Development Corporation to assist home owners in rebuilding (Chamlee-Wright and Storr, “Filling the Civil Society Vacuum: Post Disaster Policy and Community Response,” Mercatus Center Policy, Policy Comment No. 2 (Arlington, VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, February 2009c)).Google Scholar
  4. 18.
    According to Chamlee-Wright (The Cultural and Political Economy of Recovery: Social Learning in a Post-Disaster Environment (London: Routledge, 2010): 122), “Gentilly respondents, for example, expressed appreciation for the distinct New Orleans music and cuisine, but given the more distinctly ‘middle class’ feel of the area and the more contemporary architectural styles, residents of this predominately middle class African-American neighborhood were much less likely than their Ninth Ward counterparts to emphasize the importance of socializing on the porch, block parties, and barbeques.”Google Scholar
  5. 20.
    As noted earlier, one of the particular challenges to recovery following a disaster, of the size and scope of Katrina, is that members of a disaster victim’s social network are typically also affected by the disaster. As Fussell (“Help from Family, Friends, and Strangers During Hurricane Katrina: Finding the Limits of Social Networks,” in Displaced: Life in the Katrina Diaspora, ed. L. Weber and L. Peek (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012): 150) writes, “In New Orleans members of these more vulnerable networks quickly reached the limits of the networks’ ability to provide assistance precisely because of this concentration of similarly vulnerable people.”Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Virgil Henry Storr, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch and Laura E. Grube 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virgil Henry Storr
  • Stefanie Haeffele-Balch
  • Laura E. Grube

There are no affiliations available

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