AN EVALUATION OF THE USEFULNESS OF ACTOR NETWORK THEORY IN UNDERSTANDING THE COMPLEXITIES OF VULNERABILITY AND RESILIENCE IN POST-DISASTER RECONSTRUCTION

Graham Brewer, Aiobheann McVeigh

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26687/archnet-ijar.v7i3.50

Abstract

The literature is replete with accounts of the struggle to effectively target and deploy postdisaster aid so as to achieve maximum benefit to recipients, both direct and indirect, over the short- and longer-term. Generally these stories balance success with lessons learned from failure, in order to inform practice in future recovery and reconstruction events. They are often derived from the heroic accounts of key actors in case studies, on the understandable basis that these carefully selected individuals will have been pivotal in designing and directing the implementation of aid programmes. The influence of non-humans such as organisations, systems, processes, or elements of the constructed environment are considered only insofar as they impact upon the experiences of the raconteurs. However actor network theory, a technique originally developed to examine phenomena at the sociotechnological interface, ascribes human characteristics such as motives and behaviours equally to human and non-human actants, ultimately to better explain the worldly consequences of their interaction. This paper reports on the ex post application of ANT to data collected in an earlier actor-centric study, to both evaluate its usefulness in disaster research and to identify potential gaps in the disaster research agenda.


Keywords

disaster; resilience; vulnerability; actor network theory

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