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In the hands of a few: Disaster recovery committee networks

Highlights - This study examines recovery planning committees across Japan's Tohoku region. - The authors describe the network of 656 members on 39 committees after Japan's 3/11 disaster. - Engineers, men, and businesses are strongly represented in recovery committees. - Community representatives, women, and social scientists are underrepresented.

Timothy Fraser, Daniel P.Aldrich, Andrew Small, Andrew Littlejohn
24 November 2020
In the hands of a few: Disaster recovery committee networks

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 dataset on committee membership patterns across 39 committees with 657 members. Using descriptive statistics and social network analysis, we examine 1) how community representation through membership varied among committees, and 2) in what ways did committees share members, interlinking members from certain interests groups. This study finds that community representation varies considerably among committees, negatively related to the prevalence of experts, bureaucrats, and business interests. Committee membership overlap occurred heavily along geographic boundaries, bridged by engineers and government officials. Engineers and government bureaucrats also tend to be connected to more members of the committee network than community representatives, giving them prized positions to disseminate ideas about best practices in recovery. This study underscores the importance of diversity and community representation in disaster recovery planning to facilitate equal participation, information access, and policy implementation across communities.

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