Building disaster resilience using social messaging networks: the WeChat community in Houston, Texas, during Hurricane Harvey

Haoran Chu, Janet Z. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Analyses of disaster resilience have focused increasingly on the role of social capital and online social networks in recovery. This study complements this field of work by investigating three key issues. First, it examines how a social messaging application, WeChat, helped individuals to access and to mobilise three types of social capital—bonding, bridging, and linking—during Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Louisiana and Texas in the United States in August 2017, resulting in significant flooding and loss of life. Second, it pinpoints and assesses quantitatively how individuals' WeChat group usage and social capital influenced their post-disaster well-being. Third, it demonstrates how a minority and immigrant community in Houston, Texas, overcame the disadvantages commonly observed in other disaster research through the utilisation of social media. The findings of this study should aid governmental and community efforts to foster resilience in the face of natural and human-induced hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-752
Number of pages27
JournalDisasters
Volume44
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

Keywords

  • Hurricane Harvey
  • WeChat
  • disaster resilience
  • social capital
  • social messaging network

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