In the Hands of a Few: Disaster Recovery Committee Networks
by Daniel P. Aldrich, Timothy Fraser, Andrew Small & Andrew Littlejohn, ResearchGate
When disaster strikes, urban planners often rely on feedback and guidance from committees of officials, residents, and interest groups when crafting reconstruction policy. Focusing on recovery planning committees after Japan’s 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters, we compile and analyze a data-set on committee membership patterns across 39 committees with 657 members. Using descriptive statistics and social network analysis, we examine how membership patterns vary among committees and the overlap in committees’ membership. Membership is not representative of Japanese residents in terms of gender or age. Further, we found strong evidence of overlapping membership patterns that led to networks of committee membership not due to chance. This network was characterized by assortativity, high occurrence of triadic relationships, and strong geographic divides between Iwate Prefecture committees and other regional and national committees. Government, business, and civil society members were most frequently represented on committees. Finally, three key participants stood out as significantly more interconnected on and across committees than all others. This study underscores the importance of breadth and diversity in social ties in disaster recovery planning to facilitate equal participation, information, policy implementation and access across communities.