Perceptions of social responsibility for community resilience to extreme flooding

  • Aaron Michael Mullins

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe, with extreme flooding one of the biggest risks faced by increasingly vulnerable UK communities. There are complexities and inconsistencies within policy guidance, failings within technological measures of resilience and an over-reliance upon interconnectedness within modern society. Physical and economical resilience measures are not able to completely protect communities, as they do not account for the perceptual motivations behind pro-environmental behaviour. Research into perceptions needs to be conducted within the community, allowing behaviour of individuals to be contextualised within a social group and exploration of interrelationships between different community groups. The research explores perceptions of social responsibility in relation to extreme flooding for householders, local small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and policy makers. The influence of experience of flooding and the demographics of age, gender and ethnicity are also explored. The aim of the research was to explore perceptions of social responsibility, in relation to extreme flooding, within four communities in Birmingham and SE London, three with recent experience of flooding and one without. The research had two main objectives designed to meet this aim. The first objective was to establish and empirically investigate a theoretical framework for community level social responsibility research and a conceptual model of community group perceptions of social responsibility. The second objective was to explore factors which were considered to be related to perceptions of social responsibility, these being age, gender, ethnicity and experience of flooding. The two objectives were explored through a mixed methodological approach which combined quantitative questionnaires and qualitative cognitive mapping analysis. There were 343 questionnaires and 112 cognitive mapping transcripts from Birmingham communities. There were also 138 questionnaires and 62 cognitive mapping transcripts from a SE London community. The questionnaires were analysed using Predictive Analytic Software (PASW) and the transcripts were analysed using cognitive mapping, with visual maps created in Decision Explorer. The results show support for utilising the community social responsibility framework to structure research and for the majority of aspects within the conceptual model of community group perceptions of social responsibility. The results indicate that older participants report higher levels of self-rated social responsibility because they are considered to be more vulnerable to extreme events and were therefore more willing to take action for mitigation and adaptation. There were no gender differences found, suggesting that factors which influence perceptions of risk do not necessarily influence perceptions of social responsibility. The Asian ethnic group reported higher levels of self-rated social responsibility than the White ethnic group, who in turn reported higher levels than the Black ethnic group. There were no ethnic differences within the policy maker group. Social responsibility reported by participants within the community which had not experienced recent flooding was far lower than those reported by participants within communities which had experienced recent flooding. Policy makers are perceived as possessing a particular level of social responsibility, regardless of whether the community has experienced recent flooding or not. The importance and focus of their work was considered to override any individual ethnic or experience differences which may have been present. The results are also discussed in relation to existing institutional policies and agendas and existing measures of community resilience. The application and limitations of the research are considered, with contributions to new knowledge highlighted and recommendations made for future research.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SponsorsEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
    SupervisorRobby Soetanto (Supervisor)


    • Social Responsibility
    • Ethnicity
    • Perceptions
    • Behaviour
    • Community Resilience
    • Extreme Weather
    • Flooding
    • Climate Change
    • Cognitive Mapping
    • Age
    • Gender

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