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Thinking Allowed: Post-Katrina New Orleans & The Capitalist Personality

Updated Tuesday, 11th March 2014

Why after the water receded, capitalists moved in to New Orleans; and just who are these capitalists anyway?

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Every week, BBC Radio 4 and The Open University come together to explore the latest in social science research. Laurie Taylor and guests tackle the big questions - and some smaller, but no less significant ones - in Thinking Allowed.

Post-Katrina New Orleans: how disaster recovery became a lucrative business. Laurie Taylor talks to Vincanne Adams, US Professor of Medical Anthropology, about her account of market failure after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

She discovered private companies profiting from the misery they sought to ameliorate and a second order disaster that intensified inequalities based on race and class. Why were residents left to re-build their lives and homes almost entirely on their own, save for the contribution of churches and charities?

Phil O'Keefe, Professor of Economic Development, joins the discussion.

Read a transcript of the Katrina debate

Also, 'The Capitalist Personality' - Laurie Taylor explores interpersonal bonds in the post communist world. Christopher Swader, Assistant Professor of Sociology in Moscow, argues that successful people in countries as diverse as China and Russia adjust to the market economy at a social cost, compromising moral values in pursuit of material gain.

Is anti social behaviour in new capitalist economies a by-product of their communist pasts or does the individual ambition released by economic development also have a part to play in threatening human relationships?

Read a transcript of the Chris Swader interview

  • This edition of Thinking Allowed is first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday March 12th, 2014 and will be available to listen to online after transmission. Find out more at




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