ABSTRACT In the U.S. Southwest, prolonged drought may force those most dependent on water to abandon their livelihoods. By focusing on Hispanic farmers and farmworkers, in this article I examine how ethnicity and other factors compound risk and create highly vulnerable groups. I use the concept of “social capital” to understand how the critically vulnerable access resources embedded in informal social networks of mutual aid to reduce their vulnerability. By contrasting their situation to that of Anglo farmers, I explore how social networks emerge as a result of diverse socioeconomic and ethnic contexts. Under a more permanent scenario of increased aridity, a better understanding of the risk management mechanisms deployed by vulnerable groups sheds light on how collective approaches build resilience and on the role of policy in promoting or inhibiting these approaches. I seek to contribute to discussions about the importance of sociocultural dynamics and policy decisions to improving society's adaptive capacity.
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