Toward Self Reliant Communities A Cultural Comparison of Disaster Response in Thailand, Guyana and the United States

Deborah Clark Vance (1)
(1) Associate Prof. and Chair, Dept. of Communication McDaniel College , United States


This research provides a cross-cultural look at communication’s role in community disaster preparation and recovery. Cultures in three diverse sites were investigated: Individuals and community groups in Thailand’s Phuket and Phang-na provinces which experienced a tsunami in December 2004; in eastern Guyana where flooding devastated coastal areas in January 2005; and in New Orleans, Louisiana, where tens of thousands of people were displaced by the winds of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the waters that breached levees in fall 2005. Analyzing data from in-depth interviews and focus groups with individuals; members and leaders of faith-based and community organizations; and members and representatives of governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), this study theorizes about the need for community members to strengthen interpersonal and community communication networks as preparation for and survival during disasters.

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Note: This project was supported by The Tokyo Foundation under the Joint Initiatives Program (JIP). This paper is original and has not been presented previously. An earlier version was presented at the May 2007 International Communication Association (ICA) annual conference in San Francisco, California


Deborah Clark Vance (Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Deborah Clark Vance, Associate Prof. and Chair, Dept. of Communication McDaniel College

Deborah Clark Vance, Ph.D., is associate professor in and chair of the Dept. of Communication and Cinema at McDaniel College where she teaches courses in intercultural communication, gender in communication and qualitative research procedures as well as courses on media and culture. She earned her Ph. D. in Intercultural Communication at Howard University and her undergraduate degree in Communication with an emphasis on media at Northwestern University. Her research interests include how individuals create and circulate cultural meaning, whether face-to-face or mediated, particularly within their perceived group boundaries.

Vance, D. C. (2014). Toward Self Reliant Communities A Cultural Comparison of Disaster Response in Thailand, Guyana and the United States. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 14(2), 1–13.

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