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Social work in extremisLessons for social work internationally$
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Michael Lavalette and Vasilios Ioakimidis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847427182

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847427182.001.0001

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Worker's eye view of neoliberalism and Hurricane Katrina

Worker's eye view of neoliberalism and Hurricane Katrina

Chapter:
(p.143) ten Worker's eye view of neoliberalism and Hurricane Katrina
Source:
Social work in extremis
Author(s):

Marla S. McCulloch

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847427182.003.0011

The profound physical destruction of Hurricane Katrina (and subsequent Hurricane Rita) was compounded by social and political problems already firmly entrenched before the storms hit. The disaster was a product not only of physical forces, but of neoliberal ideology as well. The author of this chapter was one of the more than 230,000 volunteers with the American Red Cross who responded during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, dispatched as a Disaster Mental Health worker in the Central Louisiana region. However, the system of social and health services had temporarily stopped functioning. None of the hospitals or ambulance services would take psychiatric patients. Local mental health as well as Child and Adult Protective Services would not respond. While an abundance of blame emerged after the disaster — from historically racist power structures to incompetent federal administration to the de-funding of critical services — they were all merely symptoms of a destructive ideological shift to neoliberalism. It was out of this neoliberal ideology that an alternative form of social work reasserted itself.

Keywords:   Louisiana, neoliberalism, Hurricane Katrina, social work, social services, health services

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