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Sharing Cathartic Stories Online: The Internet As A Means Of Expression Following A Crisis Event 

Journal of Consumer Behaviour 

Ekant Veer, Lucie K. Ozanne, C. Michael Hall


This research looks at the way that stories were shared online following the magnitude 7.1 and 6.3 earthquakes that hit Canterbury, New Zealand in September 2010 and February 2011. The earthquakes left the city of Christchurch with massive structural, infrastructural and emotional damage as well as leading to 185 deaths. The ground movement was the highest ever recorded to have hit a major city. Four years on, the city is beginning to recover. This research looks at the way in which technology was used as one tool to promote community resilience amongst those affected by the earthquakes and reflects the growing awareness of the contribution that consumer behaviour research can make to disaster research and studies of resilience. Several online tools, social media and online communities, were used by residents in order to cope with the ordeal. We demonstrate that the Internet not only provided a major source of practical information, but also may have facilitated an emotional bond to others in the city and beyond thereby contributing to increased personal and community resilience. We show that the need to share and express one's self following a major crisis event was clearly evident with the volumes of stories submitted, especially when physical travel was impractical or restricted by the authorities. The implications for theories of catharsis and the use of online media during crises are discussed. Policy recommendations regarding the use of online media are also provided as an aid in the victims' emotional recovery from a major crisis.

Stories, Community Resilience


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