August, 2007

Katrina and the Social Organization of Disaster Recovery

  • Richard Wagner

    Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics and Economics
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This working paper explores the social organization of disaster recovery, using Hurricane Katrina to supply context for the theoretical effort. That effort distinguishes two contrasting models of political economy. The conventional model treats the state as a unitary actor that stands outside the economy and uses policy instruments to shift society to some different equilibrium. The alternative model treats the state as composed of numerous loosely connected actors that operate inside the economy, with policy measures emerging out of interaction among differing desires and beliefs held by the various participants. This alternative model presents a different understanding of state policy, both in ordinary times and in the extraordinary times represented by natural disaster.