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Abstract

In this paper, we examine the emerging use of ICT in social phenomena such as natural disasters. Researchers have acknowledged that a community possesses the capacity to manage the challenges in crisis response on its own. However, extant IS studies focus predominantly on IS use from the crisis response agency’s perspective, which undermines communities’ role. By adopting an empowerment perspective, we focus on understanding how social media empowers communities during crisis response. As such, we present a qualitative case study of the 2011 Thailand flooding. Using an interpretive approach, we show how social media can empower the community from three dimensions of empowerment process (structural, psychological, and resource empowerment) to achieve collective participation, shared identification, and collaborative control in the community. We make two contributions: 1) we explore an emerging social consequence of ICT by illustrating the roles of social media in empowering communities when responding to crises, and 2) we address the literature gap in empowerment by elucidating the actualization process of empowerment that social media as a mediating structure enables.

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