Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Political Science

Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Peter VonDoepp


Social capital, disasters, United States, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Matthew


This thesis examines what effect disasters have on social capital. Given the ambiguity in the literature on the relationship between social capital and disasters, it is important to study this intersection further. This relationship is analyzed through a quantitative inquiry of Hurricane Irene (2011), Hurricane Sandy (2012), and Hurricane Matthew (2016) in the US as well as a qualitative case study from news sources in Hoboken, NJ following Hurricane Sandy. I break down social capital into attitudinal and behavioral components. My findings suggest that social capital generally increases following hurricanes. What is notable about these findings is that not all components of social capital reacted uniformly, with formal membership in civil society groups declining overall. There was evidence in the case study to suggest that this trend was offset by informal group behavior and effective government, business, and philanthropic aid. My findings demonstrate that both informal groups and governmental aid can promote post-disaster social capital.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.