September, 2014

The Capacity for Self-Governance and Post-Disaster Resiliency

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A community’s capacity for self-governance depends on the social coordination capacity of community organizations and associations, the ability of community members to effectively access both bonding and bridging social capital, the ability of community members to leverage their shared histories and perspectives, and the stability of social networks within the community. Both Elinor Ostrom and Jane Jacobs have explored how a community’s capacity for self-governance affects its ability to solve complex problems (for example, dealing with crime, the provision of public goods, or problems of neighborhood blight). The greater a community’s capacity for self-governance the better able it is to deal with these complex challenges. This paper examines how pre-disaster systems of self-governance aid in post-disaster community recovery. Our analysis focuses on the Mary Queen of Vietnam (MQVN) community and Gentilly, examines the effectiveness of their systems of self-governance prior to Hurricane Katrina and explores the role these systems played in promoting community recovery after the disaster.