August 23, 2006

After the Storm: Finding Success in the Wake of Hurricane Katrina

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This paper examines the role social capital is playing in the post-Katrina recovery process, inparticular, how social capital resources are being deployed to overcome the collective action problemassociated with post-disaster recovery. The usual assumption is that large-scale government responseoffers the only viable path towards successful recovery. Qualitative analysis presented here suggests thatthe resources found within civil society represent an alternative paradigm for how communities canrebound. We identify four patterns by which residents and business owners are creating and leveragingsocial capital assets in their interactions with each other and other elements within civil society. Weconclude that government disaster response and redevelopment policy should be crafted and executed insuch a way that it does not unduly inhibit civil society’s ability to respond.