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Swimming Alone? The Role of Social Capital in Enhancing Local Resilience to Climate Stress: a case study from Bangladesh

Jordan, J. C.

Climate and Development. 2014;.

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There has been increasing examination of resilience as a concept applicable to climate adaptation. In this paper, resilience is used to explore the layers of responses to past and present climate stress. It examines the factors and circumstances that may hinder or enhance resilience, providing insights into past and present adaptation processes that may be relevant for adaptation to future climate change. Specifically, this paper tests the value of social capital in influencing resilience to climate stress. While there are many examples where social capital influences resilience to climate stress, this paper aims to determine the relative importance of different types of social capital for enhancing resilience, by exploring how relationships of exchange and reciprocity influence responses to climate stress. This study involved case studies of specific communities in the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh. This case study highlights a complex rather than a uniformly positive relationship between social capital and enhancing resilience to climate stress. Specifically, it identifies four types of social capital based support (with monetary support as a subset) and the interlinkages among the types (and processes) of social capital with diverse effects on resilience. It emphasises the moral and ethical importance of reconceptualising resilience with an emphasis on the most vulnerable, as resilience approaches that fail to recognise the differentiated nature of resilience, risk reinforcing vulnerability. Westernised concepts have important benefits, but crucial limitations when applied to the particular conditions, value sets and modes of community working in the south. The uncritical importation of social capital needs to be treated with caution especially in the context of climate adaptation.


Resilience social capital vulnerability climate stress Bangladesh

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post-peer reviewed
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Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
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Immediate release
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6th July, 2014
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Created by:
Jordan, Joanne
6th July, 2014, 18:58:05
Last modified by:
Jordan, Joanne
Last modified:
19th December, 2015, 08:01:19

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