Quantifying household social resilience: a place-based approach in a rapidly transforming community

Sarah Henly-Shepard, Cheryl Anderson, Kimberly Burnett, Linda J. Cox, John N. Kittinger, Maka‘ala Ka‘aumoana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In an era of ecological degradation, global climate change, demographic shifts and increasing intensity and frequency of natural hazards, the Pacific Islands including the State of Hawai‘i face heightened risk. Human and environmental well-being are tightly coupled; thus, science-based solutions must marry place-based, culturally relevant processes that link disaster preparedness, relief and recovery with resilience theories and applications. However, these fields remain mired in epistemological silos, and the operationalization of these theories has been slow, particularly at the community level. This paper explores the challenges of bridging these intersecting fields and the application of theory to practice, through a community-based case study in Hanalei, Hawai‘i. We deployed household surveys, key informant interviews and traditional talk-story sessions to gather baseline information on demographic and socio-ecological transformations, perceptions of risk and preparedness, and coping and adaptive capacity measures. Results showed that residents exhibit medium-to-high coping and adaptive capacities, while visitors present high vulnerability and dependence upon locals. Social resilience metrics highlight differential coping and adaptive capacities among households with varying characteristics (e.g., sex of head of household, longevity of residence and household size) offering risk reduction targets. A gap analysis developed from a qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions highlights key sectors, areas and populations with perceived gaps in preparedness and resilience, coupled with ideas for solutions centered around local capacity building and improved knowledge and awareness. Community-based assessments underpin the development of long-term disaster resilience planning initiatives and to addressing gaps in vulnerable sectors and populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-363
Number of pages21
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive capacity
  • Climate change
  • Community
  • Coping
  • Resilience
  • Transformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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