The resilience of neighborhood social processes: A case study of the 2011 Brisbane flood

Rebecca Wickes, Chester Britt, Lisa Broidy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Social disorganization theories position neighborhood social capital and collective efficacy as key social processes that should facilitate community resilience in the aftermath of disaster. Yet limited evidence demonstrates that these social processes are themselves resilient with some studies showing that disaster can fracture even once cohesive neighborhoods. In this paper we assess the stability of neighborhood level collective efficacy and social capital before and after a disaster. We use multilevel structural equation modeling and draw on census and longitudinal survey data collected from over 4000 residents living in 148 neighborhoods in Brisbane, Australia before and after a significant flood event. We examine what happens to social capital and collective efficacy in flooded and non-flooded neighborhoods and assess whether demographic shifts are associated with change and/or stability in these processes. We find strong evidence that these processes operate similarly across flooded and not flooded communities. Our findings also reveal significant stability for our measures of social capital across time, while collective efficacy increases post flood across all neighborhoods, but more so in flooded neighborhoods. Neighborhood demographics have limited effect on patterns of stability or change in these social processes. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings for our understanding of neighborhood resilience in the wake of disaster.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-119
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Science Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective efficacy
  • Disaster
  • Neighborhoods
  • Resilience
  • Social capital

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