Geographies of social capital: Catastrophe experience, risk perception, and the transformation of social space in postearthquake resettlements in Sichuan, China

Alex Y. H. LO, Ting On Lewis CHEUNG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the relationships between catastrophe experience and risk perception, social interaction, and household response to future catastrophes. Our main argument recognizes the geographical context in which social capital is formed and reproduced. Social relationships and norms adjust to the social landscape, which can be transformed by the spatial consequences of natural catastrophes. We therefore argue that sources of household resilience could be derived from the spatial transformation of social practices and not necessarily from catastrophe experience and risk perception directly. A case study was conducted in two postearthquake rural communities in China. The inquiry is primarily based on a household survey of 371 local residents and is further supported by an analysis of additional in-depth interviews and a review of key changes in the neighborhoods under study. The findings challenge the assumption that catastrophe experience and risk perception are related to residents' intentions to prepare for future catastrophes. Nonetheless, the relationship might be mediated by social relationships and social norms. Catastrophe experience and risk perception can be construed as a geographical contextual factor. Further analysis provides one example of such a factor: The spatial features of postearthquake resettlements have increased the proximity between residents. This shift facilitates neighborly interaction and risk communication across a neighborhood. We discuss the nonlinear, dynamic relationships between the variables examined and the grounding of social capital in space. 
本文探討災難經驗和風險認知、社會互動以及家戶對於未來災害的回應之間的關聯性。我們的主要主張在於指認社會資本形成和再生產的地理脈絡。社會關係和常規適應社會地景,並可被自然災害的空間後果所改變。我們因而主張,家戶恢復力的來源,可能衍生自社會實踐的空間變遷,而不一定直接從災難經驗和風險認知而來。我們對中國兩座經歷大地震的農村社區進行案例研究。研究問題主要是根據三百七十一位元在地居民的家戶調查,並由額外的深度訪談分析和回顧研究的鄰里中的關鍵改變進一步支持之。研究發現,挑戰了災害經驗和風險認知關乎居民為未來的災害做準備的意圖之預設,但此般關係仍然可被社會關係和社會常規所仲介。災害經驗和風險認知可解釋為地理的脈絡因素。進一步的分析,對此般因素提供了一個實例༚地震後再安置的空間特徵,增加了居民之間的親近性。此般改變促進了鄰里間的鄰居互動和風險溝通。我們探討所檢視的變項和社會資本的空間基礎之間非線性的動態關係。 Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)874-890
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number4
Early online dateApr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


risk perception
social space
social capital
geographical factors
risk communication
Social Norms
household survey
rural community


Lo, A. Y., & Cheung, L. T. O. (2016). Geographies of social capital: Catastrophe experience, risk perception, and the transformation of social space in postearthquake resettlements in Sichuan, China. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 106(4), 874-890. doi: 10.1080/24694452.2016.1159502


  • Catastrophe experience
  • China
  • Earthquake
  • Household behavior
  • Social interaction
  • 災難經驗
  • 中國
  • 地震
  • 家戶行為
  • 社會互動