Rural Community Disaster Resiliency: Self-Organizing Collective Action among Farmworkers in Central Florida

August 2015 (VOL. 33, NO. 2)

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In this article we examined how voluntary and self-organizing efforts contributed to disaster resiliency in a rural community in Central Florida. We analyzed data from a focus group with farmworkers in Central Florida to investigate how self-organizing collective action can help develop more resilient communities in socially vulnerable populations. We identified three major themes within our coding scheme: past disaster experiences, self-organizing collective action, and challenges to self-organizing collective action and resilience. The results indicated that past disaster experiences provided an opportunity for these farmworkers to mobilize their social capital and network partnerships to self-organize and develop disaster resilience. The findings indicated that self-organizing collective action could be effective in creating disaster resilience, even in socially vulnerable populations. Nonetheless, the results also indicated certain challenges to self-organizing collective action and resilience such as: language barriers, an anti-immigrant sentiment, poor relations with law enforcement, and lack of work. These challenges are constant reminders that the goal of creating truly disaster resilient communities cannot be reached if these conditions are not lessen or eradicated.