Community resilience, capitals, and power relations : stories from the Waimakariri District about the aftermath of the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquakes in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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Situated on the southern Pacific Rim, New Zealand’s seismic profile has long posed risks for New Zealand communities. In this geological context, fostering community resilience to natural hazards is vital and resilience is beginning to be mainstreamed into New Zealand’s planning and emergency management systems. However, a challenge emerges: how can the complex and contested concept of community resilience be operationalised in practice? This thesis addresses this question by critically evaluating how community resources and assets can be framed as community capitals, and exploring how these were mobilised in the Waimakariri District; an area affected by the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquake sequence. A novel conceptual framework, the Community Resilience Capitals Framework, is developed on the basis of a literature review on resilience and capitals integrating Social-Ecological Systems theory, community resilience theory, and multi-capital frameworks. The research was underpinned by social constructionism, framed by a critical inquiry perspective and conducted using a Community-Based Participatory design. A mixed-methods approach was applied to explore the breadth and depth of Waimakariri post-Canterbury earthquake recovery stories. Purposive and snowballing methods were used to identify and recruit 51 research participants. Data collection methods included a pilot study, case studies, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Data were subjected to content and narrative analyses; informed by the theories of Bourdieu, Foucault, and Harré. Research findings show that capitals tend to be theorised as a variety of compartmentalised static concepts. However, physical capitals, such as built and economic capitals, and metaphysical capitals, such as symbolic, cultural, social, political and moral capitals, are accrued, assembled, and mobilised by actors shaping complex capital networks. Those who have or are able to mobilise the largest assemblages of capitals position themselves and others who have accrued less capital within the hierarchically structured fields of disaster response, recovery and regeneration. It is an actor’s position within the fields that gives them the legitimacy (symbolic capital) to influence matters (central position), or be subjected to dominant actors (marginal positions). Multiple exemplars to illustrate capital accrual and field positioning are explored in this thesis such as central governments’ reliance on the insurance and reinsurance sectors’ economic capital to stabilise New Zealand’s financial markets. Consequently, insurance-related stakeholders were imbued with significant political capital and able to determine the priorities for earthquake recovery, while local communities’ priorities were marginalised. Key findings of this research indicate that physical and metaphysical capitals are selectively accrued as well as mobilised by actors positioned in the fields of disaster risk reduction, in order to influence negotiations pertaining to well-being and resilience priorities. Imbalances in capital accrual by actors fuel inequities in community resilience building processes. This research has identified that the complex nature of capitals and the ways they are mobilised to facilitate community wellbeing are not adequately acknowledged in prevailing emergency management and planning practices. The Community Resilience Capitals Framework reveals the complex nature of capital interactions and can be used to reveal how equitable and inclusive local community resilience building processes are in practice, in a place- and context-sensitive manner.
Canterbury Earthquake, N.Z., 2010, Canterbury Earthquake, N.Z., 2011, Natural disasters, Social aspects, New Zealand, Waimakariri District, Community organization, Social capital (Sociology), Infrastructure (Economics), Resilience (Personality trait), Agent (Philosophy)