Social Media as Participatory Tools in Post-Disaster Reconstruction: Re-Negotiating Power Relationships and Achieving Self-Empowerment

August 2016 (VOL. 34, NO. 2)

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This paper presents the first attempt to integrate studies on the use of social media for public participation and social mobilization with research on post-disaster reconstruction (PDR). The description of three case studies of disasters in different social and cultural contexts is used to demonstrate that social media represent means to re-discuss power relationships and the meaning of the disaster during the recovery process. It is also argued that certain elements of the recovery process may exacerbate the contrast between citizens and authorities and result in social media being used as self-empowerment platform to contest rather than to collaborate with authorities. In conclusion, it is suggested that this open conflict may hinder the achievement of a full recovery process, and that new studies should be geared toward examining possible ways to support and enhance authorities-citizens communication during the PDR process by the means of social media.