Sociology study focuses on cultural mechanisms after a natural disaster

UCF Sociology professor Fernando I. Rivera recently completed his study “Cultural Mechanisms in the Exchange of Social Support Among Puerto Ricans After a Natural Disaster”.

In this study, he uncovered the dynamics involved in the exchange (or lack) of social support among a group of Puerto Ricans who experienced a natural disaster. Rivera coded and analyzed 12 semistructured qualitative interviews. His analysis of the interviews revealed that a reported high degree of need was not associated with any type of help seeking from the respondents’ social support networks. Relevant issues that arose in explaining the lack of social support exchanges were level of comfort in help seeking and cultural issues.

Rivera’s findings point to the importance of culture in shaping patterns of help-seeking behavior in the aftermath of a disaster. Two of the most salient cultural explanations as to why disaster victims were reluctant to ask for help from family and friends were the issues of confianza (trust) and pena (embarrassment). He discusses the results with reference to how they might help in planning and establishing programs to maximize help seeking among Latinos/as in an emergency situation.

You can read more about his research here.

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