In a recent Weather, Climate, and Society article, two hypotheses about social resilience to disaster were tested. One was that societies allowing greater political participation and access to decision-making were more resilient to catastrophic climate-related disasters; the second was that societies with stronger social norms were more resilient. Support was found for the first hypothesis but little support for the second. The lack of support for the second hypothesis seemed odd, as it had been supported by other researchers, but a clear rationale for the lack of support was not offered. Here the previous study is replicated with a sample of 20 societies that experienced the Late Antique Little Ice Age. As with the original paper, the replication finds support for the first hypothesis and little support for the second. It is suggested that the reason for these differing results is due to the differing forms of climate-related disasters examined in previous studies. Specifically, it is suggested that political participation provides resilience to catastrophic climate-related disasters by fostering bridging forms of social capital, whereas adherence to strong social norms provides resilience to smaller, more episodic disasters by fostering bonding forms of social capital. The paper concludes with policy suggestions that are based on these findings.

Significance Statement

This paper replicates a previous study published in Weather, Climate, and Society. Both the previous study and this replication find that societies providing greater access to political participation and decision-making are more resilient to catastrophic climate-related disasters than societies having strong social norms, the latter being an argument made by other researchers. The findings suggest that better resilience is fostered when stakeholders are directly involved in decision-making. Thus, in addition to replicating the previous study, this study supports current research on disaster response and management arguing that social capital and community engagement should be fostered to build resilience to climate-related disasters.

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