The Characteristics of Interpersonal Networks in Disaster Response*

Christopher Kenny, Christopher Weber, Kathleen Bratton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


It is well established that discussion networks have meaningful consequences for a variety of sociopolitical attitudes and behavior. In this project, we explore how social structure shapes reactions to disaster; in particular, the 2010 BP oil spill. We address the questions of how networks are relied upon following community-wide disaster, and to what extent these networks mirror social structures in other domains. To examine these questions, we analyze data that experimentally vary the commonly employed discussion “name-generator” questions to see if oil spill discussants are fundamentally different from important matters discussants. Relative to “important matters” discussants, we find strong support for a specialist model in response to disaster; oil spill discussants tend to be less intimate, more knowledgeable, more active, and more talkative about the oil spill. Ultimately, this suggests a contextual basis for the formation of and reliance on discussion networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)566-583
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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