Importance of social networks in times of crisis

Groups of people who have strong ties and who all know each other are important. So are social networks in which know-each-others are clustered and different groups are connected into larger networks. This recent research about the evidence of social networks in the American Southwest during a past super-drought emphasizes the resilience of societies with strong networks as well as groups.

The more you know your neighbors, the better off you may be when disaster strikes, a new study from the University of Arizona suggests.

Researchers in the UA School of Anthropology examined social networks in the late pre-Hispanic Southwest and found that communities that were more connected with their neighbors had a better chance of being able to successfully manage a crisis than did communities with fewer outside connections.

It’s a finding that could have implications for crisis management research today.

“In a lot of modern research in crisis management, people are looking at how communities mobilize along social networks to overcome traumatic environmental crises, like we saw with Hurricane Katrina,” said Lewis Borck, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate in the UA School of Anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

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