Connecting Social Capital and Vulnerability: Citation Network Analysis of Disaster Studies
A growing body of disaster scholarship uses qualitative and quantitative methods to illuminate the role of social capital and social networks in recovery and resilience outcomes. However, this approach seems disconnected from older approaches based on broader themes such as vulnerability. Which school of thought is more prominent in disaster social science, and to what degree are these fields interconnected? To address this question, this study used network analysis to visualize citation patterns, schools of thought, and influential authors from 912 articles on disasters. This analysis finds that while all clusters of disaster research deal with some kind of vulnerability—such as age, poverty, race, and gender—only one of six main research clusters engages scholarship on social capital. Despite this gap, the most influential works in the field point to strong synergies between social capital and vulnerability research. This work highlights the role of social capital in helping to understand how vulnerable populations can organize to mitigate disaster outcomes, and using the insights of vulnerability scholars on race and gender to improve social capital scholars’ understanding of bridging and bonding social ties in disaster recovery.