Reciprocity, Altruism, & Need-based Transfers as Potential Resilience Conferring Social Mechanisms in Violent System Perturbation
Risk, Disasters and Need-based Transfers Workshop
Hosted by the Human Generosity Project and the Decision Center for
a Desert City, Arizona State University
Reciprocity, Altruism, and Need-Based
Transfers as Potential Resilience
Conferring Social Mechanisms in Violent
Photo by David Kozlowski
Keith G. Tidball, Ph.D.
Department of Natural Resources
15 JAN 2016.
Faces of Violent System Perturbation
Violent System Perturbations = Red
LOCATION RED ZONE TYPE
Afghanistan Ongoing wars in the Middle East
Berlin, Germany Post-Cold War divisions
Charleston, South Carolina 1989 Hurricane Hugo
Cameroon and Chad Mid 2000’s civil unrest in Central Africa
Cyprus Demarcation between Greek and Turkish Cyprus
Europe 1940’s WW II Nazi internment camps
Guatemala Ongoing post-conflict insecurity
Iraq Ongoing wars in the Middle East
Johannesburg, South Africa Early 2000’s Soweto, Post-Apartheid violence
Kenya Early 2000’s Resource scarcity conflict
Liberia 1989- 2003 civil war
Madagascar Costal vulnerability
New Orleans, USA 2005 Hurricane Katrina
New York City, USA 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks
Rotterdam, Netherlands Ongoing urban insecurity
Port-au-Prince, Haiti 2010 earthquake
Russia Post-Soviet Cold War urban insecurity
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-1996 conflict
South Korea Demilitarized Zone
South Korea 2002 Typhoon and coastal vulnerability
Stockholm, Sweden Urban insecurity in times of war
Tokyo and Hiroshima, Japan WW II bombings
United States WW II involvement
United States Violence and prison populations
• Explanations for the source and role of
change in adaptive systems, particularly
the kinds of change that are transforming.
• Focused on social-ecological systems –
not simply linked or coupled systems of
people and nature, people IN nature
• Found at multiple scales, from the scale
of a farm or village, through communities,
regions, and nations to the globe.
Resilience - the ability to absorb disturbances, to be changed and then to re-organize
and still have the same identity. It includes the ability to learn from the disturbance.
Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. R. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig. 2004. Resilience, adaptability and transformability in social–ecological systems. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5. [online] URL:
• Becchetti, Leonardo and
Castriota, Stefano and Conzo,
Pierluigi. 2012. Calamity, Aid
and Indirect Reciprocity: The
Long Run Impact of Tsunami on
Altruism. CEIS Working Paper
73 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/
• Faas, Albert J. 2012. Reciprocity
and Development in Disaster-
Induced Resettlement in
Andean Ecuador. Graduate
Theses and Dissertations.
• Fleming, D. A., A. Chong and H.
D. Bejarano. 2014. Trust and
Reciprocity in the Aftermath of
Natural Disasters. The Journal of
Development Studies 50(11):
• American Sociological
Association. "In Disasters, Panic
Is Rare; Altruism Dominates."
ScienceDaily, 8 August 2002.
• Lemieux, F. 2014. "The impact
of a natural disaster on
altruistic behavior and crime."
Disasters 38(3): 483-499.
• Russell R. Dynes. 1994.
Situational Altruism: Toward an
Explanation of Pathologies in
Disaster Assistance. University
of Delaware, Disaster Research
Center, Preliminary Paper #201
. Presented in Research
Committee #39--Sociology of
Disasters, XIII World Congress
of Sociology, Bielefeld,
Germany, 18-23, July.
Three Cousins/ Constructs… Disaster Context
“Need-based transfers are a widespread form of human
cooperation across cultures that enhance survival in
marginal environments… the only … risk management
strategy that necessarily involves cooperation.”
Need-based transfers “entail a commitment to helping a
risk pooling partner when that partner is in need and
one is able to help…the donor’s response to the
recipient’s need is the defining feature.”
Hao, Y., D. Armbruster, L. Cronk and C. A. Aktipis (2015). "Need-based transfers on a network: a model of risk-pooling in ecologically
volatile environments." Evolution and Human Behavior 36(4): 265-273.
“…there will be social mechanisms behind management practices
based on local ecological knowledge, as evidence of a co-
evolutionary relationship between local institutions and the
ecosystem in which they are located.” Berkes & Folke 1998
“…systems that demonstrate resilience appear to have learned to
recognize feedback, and therefore possess mechanisms by which
information from the environment can be received, processed, and
interpreted.” Berkes & Folke 1998
Does cooperation such as NBTs act as a social mechanism, that brings
about the conditions needed for adaptation in the face of disturbance
(eg. disaster and war), fundamental to social-ecological system
How do we detect NBTs in Disaster
• Need a language – “looking in the rear-view mirror” - explore examples in GRZ
book – use lexical/content analysis?
• Perform exhaustive lit review in scientific literatures across the three
• Need a baseline- retroactive/retroductive study of Superstorm Sandy to develop
descriptors of NBTs and catalog them – a set of characteristics
• Develop a “rapid reaction” study protocol , based on the above, that is ready to
launch at the next disaster
• Utilize rapid assessment methods, etc. to gather real-time data
Does Philanthropy Count?
Key findings from Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2013
include the following:
• Looking across seven data sources, they documented $27.6 billion
for disasters and humanitarian crises. This figure is not
comprehensive, but it provides a starting point for understanding
the scale of global disaster-related philanthropy.
• Grants awarded by the top 1,000 U.S. foundations totaled $116.9
million. In addition, a review of Foundation Center’s broader
database identified an additional $60.1 million in funding by smaller
foundations, public charities, and international foundations.
• Storms drew the most investments from U.S. foundations (46
percent of all funding) and the largest proportion of giving was for
response and relief (42 percent), while 19 percent of funding
targeted reconstruction and recovery efforts
Charity means: "I'm fine, so I'll give you something."
Mutual aid means: "We're all in this together, so
let's help each other out."
What does it mean that the Occupy Sandy Movement was catalytic in
nurturing mutual aid and gave rise to many NBTs?
Investigate NBTs (analogs for Mutual Aid) in the post-Superstorm Sandy
context to dig deeper …
How are NBTs affected by the presence
of Philanthropy and Charity in Disaster?
In post-Sandy NYC/NJ, greening
efforts (an index for
cooperation?) were stymied by
bureaucratic forces that
frustrated grass roots efforts to
cooperate with restoration of
public goods such as park
spaces, public coastal areas,
Some contend that the
influence of large philanthropic
interests contributed to “turf
issues,” especially in the realms
of restoration of public
Faces of Violent System Perturbation
Provocation 3: What can we learn
about NBTs from better understanding
camaraderie among elite soldiers in
“Need-based transfers are a widespread form
of human cooperation across cultures that
enhance survival in marginal environments…
the only … risk management strategy that
necessarily involves cooperation.”
For those who have travelled far, to fight
in foreign lands, know that the soldier's
greatest comfort is to have his friends
close at hand.
In the heat of battle it ceases to be an
idea for which we fight. Or a flag. Rather
we fight for the man on our left, and we
fight for the man on our right.
And when armies are scattered and the
empires fall away, all that remains is the
memory of those precious moments that
we spent side by side.
The Four Feathers - A.E.W. Mason
• Risk-pooling among elite soldiers?
– What can we learn from ancient efforts among Roman
Legionnaires to make sure fellow soldiers and their families
were taken care of ?
– What can we learn from modern-day analogs such as the
Green Beret Foundation?
• Risk-pooling among enemy combatants in WWI? Ashworth,
Tony 1980 Trench Warfare, 1914–1918: The Live and Let Live System. New York: Holmes and Meier.
• How might these examples from warfare help with
developing a new vocabulary to describe instances of
sharing and generosity that are inspired simply by the
needs of others and a sense of spiritual kinship, rather
than the logic of debt or exchange?