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Title: When Disaster Strikes: A Comparative Study of Civil Society Response to Earthquakes in China and Japan
Authors: Kim, Hanna
Advisors: Katz, Stanley
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Perhaps due to the popular belief that differences between Japanese and Chinese civil societies are “obvious,” very little has been done to compare the two. The work that does exist simplifies the differences, merely noting that Japan has a more developed— and therefore “better”—civil society than China. In this thesis, I challenge such simplifications through the examination of two case studies: civil society involvement in the Tohoku earthquake (Japan) and in the Sichuan earthquake (China). Through an indepth comparative analysis of these case studies, I conclude that the differences between the two civil societies are far more subtle than existing literature suggests. More specifically, I find that there are three main areas in which Japanese civil society differs from Chinese civil society during earthquakes: 1) attitudes towards division of work, 2) methods of communication and formations of relationships, and 3) approaches to voluntarism. In order to explain the causes behind these differences, one must not only look at the country’s relative level of civic development, but also at the cultural and historical factors rooted in each national society. Cultural beliefs and historical context help explain why civil society actors behave and respond to disasters in particular ways. Because civil society is heavily rooted in culture and history, it is unlikely that it will drastically change in the foreseeable short-term. Therefore, I conclude this thesis by exploring alternative ways in which civil society disaster response practices could be improved. Particularly, I focus on how national governments could help support civil society development by providing financial, human, and institutional resources.
Extent: 110 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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