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Journal cover: International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Online from: 1981

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Religion, the state and disaster relief in the United States and India

Document Information:
Title:Religion, the state and disaster relief in the United States and India
Author(s):Nels Paulson, (Social Science Department, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin, USA), Cecilia Menjívar, (School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
Citation:Nels Paulson, Cecilia Menjívar, (2012) "Religion, the state and disaster relief in the United States and India", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 32 Iss: 3/4, pp.179 - 196
Keywords:Aid agencies, Civil society, Disaster relief, Floods, India, Religion, Social order, Society, State, United States of America
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/01443331211214758 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The authors are grateful to both David Altheide and Juliane Schober at Arizona State University for early support in shaping this project. Thank you to Joseph E. Trainor, Daniel Marks, and Pat Young at the University of Delaware Disaster Research Center for their tremendous help in the literature review process. Finally, thank you also to the anonymous reviewers who greatly improved this paper with their thorough feedback.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the place of religion in civil society and how that relates to the problem of social order.

Design/methodology/approach – An exploratory comparative case study was conducted of flood relief in Mumbai with the relief following the Katrina disaster in the summer of 2005, using a qualitative content analysis of regional media documents.

Findings – A more fluid and less clearly defined division between religion and government in the USA was found that created opportunities by which a much larger response by religious institutions occurred. Religiously-based disaster relief in the US case is conducted more through groups and networks, while in the Indian case, religious-based relief takes place more through values and norms. These conditions led to more immediate social order following the floods in Mumbai but less intensive cooperation and coordination that was not tied to religious institutions. After Katrina in the US case, coordination and cooperation were less immediate but of higher intensity and explicitly tied to religious institutions.

Research limitations/implications – This research offers new categories for understanding the role of religion in civil society by focusing on disaster relief in a comparative manner, proposing a framework based on qualitative and exploratory research for pursuing more deductive and explanatory quantitative analyses in the future.

Originality/value – Finally, instead of assuming religion as either a source of conflict or a source of social order, dependent on the nature of a given religious group, this paper shows the additional complexity and variation in social order that is dependent on the relationship between religion and state and the social context in a given time and place.

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