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The Neoliberal DelugeHurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism, and the Remaking of New Orleans$
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Cedric Johnson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816673247

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816673247.001.0001

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From Tipping Point to Meta-Crisis

From Tipping Point to Meta-Crisis

Management, Media, and Hurricane Katrina

Chapter:
(p.3) Chapter 1 From Tipping Point to Meta-Crisis
Source:
The Neoliberal Deluge
Author(s):

Chris Russill

Chad Lavin

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816673247.003.0001

This chapter looks at the failure of tipping point explanations of crisis in the flooding of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It suggests that under the current terms of neoliberal governance, states do not pursue legitimacy through public works, but through public relations. It considers how discourses of crisis coming from the state and mass media often obscure the political roots of “natural disasters.” In particular, it examines the use of the “tipping point” as metaphor and theory of epidemiology from its genesis in the popular musings of New Yorker journalist Malcolm Gladwell to its prominence in the congressional testimony of embattled FEMA director Michael Brown. The chapter argues that this notion discourages any definitive identification of agency, power, and accountability and calls for an approach to crisis that focuses on the political economy of vulnerability—how public policy, productive relations, and social factors converge to concentrate risks among some sections of the population.

Keywords:   tipping point, flooding, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, public relations, mass media, natural disasters, congressional testimony, Michael Brown, public policy

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