Public trust in the aftermath of natural and na-technological disasters: Hurricane Katrina and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear incident

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    17 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyze public trust during the aftermath of technological and hybrid natural-technological/natech disasters – Hurricane Katrina (2005) and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan (2011). The work identifies common themes, actions and inactivity that can lead to citizens distrusting the government after disasters. Design/methodology/approach – News reports from the two areas leading newspapers formed the body of the Hurricane Katrina and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown case studies. Of key interest were emerging themes of trust and/or distrust during the immediate impact phase of the disaster in addition to government failures and social breakdowns resulting in a loss of trust in government institutions and individual leaders. Findings – The series of examples illustrate how specific action or in-action by local and federal governments served as a catalyst for a loss of trust in government institutions and individual leaders in government while proposing potential strategies to help public leaders reduce distrust during times of crisis. Research limitations/implications – The two limitations were the use of only newspapers and the passage of a new law in 2013, the “Specially Designated Secrets Protection Law,” designed to limit news reporting of the press in Japan on the issue of nuclear radiation exposure of the general public in Japan, some of the new data are not available. Practical implications – The research concludes by offering specific ways to regain trust after a perception of failure during pre- and post-disaster management in the age of mega disasters. The paper lists several recommendations that can be practically implemented to develop a culture of transparent communication, civic engagement in planning processes and inspire trust among stakeholders. Originality/value – While the paper identifies barriers to establishing trust among government agencies, the citizenry and private industry, it seeks to help inform policy frameworks regarding the importance of the government’s ability to sustain a strong sense of trust that engenders civic participation in preserving or regaining trust in the aftermath of disasters.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)410-431
    Number of pages22
    JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
    Volume36
    Issue number5-6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 13 2016

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)

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