Resilience in a Cultural Context: Taiwanese Female Earthquake Survivors


Liu, Chu-Li Julie, and Faye Mishna. 2014. “Resilience in a Cultural Context: Taiwanese Female Earthquake Survivors.” Qualitative Social Work 13 (2): 288–303.

Authors: Chu-Li Julie Liu, Faye Mishna


The aim of the current study was to examine how females survive natural disaster in non-western culture and to gain understanding of their unique experiences in rebuilding their lives. In September 1999, a major earthquake, named ‘921 Earthquake,’ measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale occurred in Taiwan. Many people survived, struggling a great deal in their efforts to reconstruct their lives. Five years after this earthquake, many survivors, including women, were reported to have rebuilt self-sufficient lives. Given the vulnerability of women and their greater difficulties in resuming their lives, an important question was how these women were able to be successful in this endeavor. Utilizing a grounded theory approach, 16 female 921 Earthquake survivors who had been helped by social workers, no longer received government aid and had successfully regained their selfsufficiency, voluntarily participated in this study. The study findings revealed that the coping strategies guided by female gender norms in the family, embedded in Taiwanese culture, including: children’s needs are the first priority as a maternal role norm; men working outside and women working inside; and female gender norms of supporting the family when husbands could not, were the major resources participants accessed and utilized to successfully cope with the difficulties after the 921 Earthquake. The participants’ narratives demonstrated that cultural norms can serve as coping resources for survivors. Implications for social work practice are addressed.

Keywords: coping strategies, cultural norms, female earthquake survivors, grounded theory approach, Taiwan

Topics: Environment, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Women, Gender Roles Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Taiwan

Year: 2014

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