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The power of localism during the long-term disaster recovery process

Victor Marchezini (Department of Research and Development, CEMADEN – National Early Warning and Monitoring Centre of Natural Disaster, São José dos Campos, Brazil)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 5 September 2018

Issue publication date: 22 January 2019




The purpose of this paper is to analyze some barriers and the “drivers of localism” during the long-term disaster recovery process. The main question is: what types of discourses and practices about localism are being heard and revealed in the frontline?


Fieldwork, which was conducted from January 2010 to June 2013, consisted of participant observation and qualitative data collection. The authors opted for an approach that privileges narrative and observation, dialoguing with participants to gather local knowledge and information. Data were analyzed in light of the disaster recovery literature, focusing on disaster recovery as an expression of power relations.


Localism has been framed in diverse ways according to the interests of social groups placed in contextual meanings and, sometimes, in different phases of risk and disaster management. One important driver of localism is disaster narrative framing that allowed identification of how localism is composed, by whom and how.

Research limitations/implications

One important aspect that needs further research is longitudinal studies to investigate how the barriers are changing between the generations, and how intergenerational dialogues can be promoted to sustain long-term participation and localism.


This study recommends the need to identify who is talking about the importance of local and how localism has been framed in policy and action. It is important to empower localism in order to provide ways for local people sharing what is going on in the frontline. But it is also essential to provide funding and means of implementation for local initiatives regarding advocating, researching and proposing disaster recovery interventions led by people.



Funding for this research was provided by the Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo (FAPESP). The opinions, hypotheses and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FAPESP.


Marchezini, V. (2019), "The power of localism during the long-term disaster recovery process", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 143-152.



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