This paper is the result of a social and economic survey of four villages in the Gediz region of South West Anatolia, Turkey, which was undertaken in two phases, October/November 1982 and March/April 1984. The specific aims of this survey were to define what was perceived as recovery in the local social, cultural and economic context and to measure recovery in communities which had suffered different degrees of distress and loss following the earthquake and, consequently, had received different amounts and kinds of assistance from the government. Essentially, therefore, the survey sought to answer the question – how far did the government programme of assistance promote recovery and over what period of time? The implications of such an inquiry concern what constitutes appropriate assistance following earthquake in rural communities. It is hoped that studies of this kind can help to guide decision making of both national governments and international humanitarian organizations on the role of material aid in the process of recovery. This is particularly urgent in view of the fact that preliminary investigations of other small rural and under-developed communities struck by earthquake suggest that material aid may actually preclude recovery in the longer term.