Involvement of local associations as asymmetric functional equivalents to centralized disaster management agency in Düzce: a Luhmannian perspective

Yoldaş, Berat
In this study, I focused on the operationally closed character of social systems, especially of organizations, in the face of earthquakes. Like all social systems, organizations reduce the complexity of the environment outside their organizational boundaries, and develop their own blind spots as they narrow their horizons down to organizationally relevant communications only. AFAD (Turkish Republic Prime Ministry Disaster & Emergency Management Presidency) as an organization is a strategic part of proactive disaster management plans and policies, which are functional responses to the problem of earthquakes by the political function system. Starting from Luhmann’s concept of “functional equivalents”, I tried to approach the local associations and their role in disaster management from a Luhmannian perspective. I studied a purposive snowball sample of local associations in Düzce (Turkey) through semi-structured field interviews about their organizational activities after the August 17th and November 12th 1999 earthquakes. These local associations organized activities for restoring the routine social functioning after the 1999 earthquakes independent from official, specialized disaster management organizations; but they are mostly not recognized by AFAD as relevant organizational partners in disaster planning today. Although AFAD now plans for future cooperation with various relevant ministries and local parties in its strategic and tactical documents, these efforts of central steering are empirically suffering from blind spots against the history of self-organizing local context. In my research, I found that there is a lack of overlap between organizational efforts of central steering (through established disaster management organizations) and the selforganizing local associations as a result of their reciprocal operational closure and multiple systemic blindnesses. I introduce the term “asymmetrical functional equivalents” to describe this situation in Luhmannian terminology and create an awareness of it in disaster management practices.


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Citation Formats
B. Yoldaş, “Involvement of local associations as asymmetric functional equivalents to centralized disaster management agency in Düzce: a Luhmannian perspective,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2014.