Using a Luhmannian perspective for earthquake resilience

Rittersberger, Helga İda
Rittersberger Tılıç, Helga Ida
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to interpret Luhmann's Social Systems Theory to discuss disaster resilience, and use its functional method for creating local organizational inventories to support the trend of integration in Turkey's disaster management system. For this, the authors used a case study from Duzce province in 2013, investigating the organizational aftermath of two major earthquakes in 1999. Design/methodology/approach A purposive sample of local associations in city center of Duzce province was used. The local associations were selected according to the criteria if they organized any disaster-related activities after the 1999 earthquakes, despite being specialized in domains other than emergencies. Representatives of these organizations were interviewed about the content of their disaster-related activities and their organizational cooperation. Findings There was a lack of overlap between centralized emergency plans and local history of self-organized disaster activities. Both centralized and local organizations primarily engaged in activities that aim to reproduce their own systemic boundaries, rather than synchronizing central and local efforts in disaster planning. Practical implications The method used in this research helps discovering the local diversity of resources for improving resilience. Originality/value Arguing that disasters should be discussed under a theory of modern society, Robert A. Stallings refers to Luhmann's theoretical work (Stallings, 1998, p. 134). Complexity plays a central role in emergencies in modern society. Therefore, the Luhmannian perspective needs to be incorporated into disaster studies to account for increasing social complexity and systemic differentiation. The problems resulting from functional differentiation and the relationship between different problem-solutions have their effects on emergency planning.
Citation Formats
H. İ. Rittersberger and H. I. Rittersberger Tılıç, “Using a Luhmannian perspective for earthquake resilience,” pp. 319–331, 2019, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: