Hurricane Katrina: Exploring justice and fairness as a sociology of common good(s)

Stephanie Perkiss & Lee Moerman (2020)

Critical Perspectives on Accounting 67/68

Abstract. Disasters or crises present opportunities to challenge society’s taken-for-granted assumptions about the order of things. This paper applies the sociology of worth (SOW), as detailed by Boltanski & Thévenot, ([1991] 2006), to conceptualize the ‘common good’ in complex social situations or disputes, in this case a disaster. We use SOW to construct a narrative of Hurricane Katrina according to a nuanced understanding of disruptions to the social order. Previous accounting studies of disasters have demonstrated how accounts play a pivotal role in defining questions of justice and accountability – to whom and for what? SOW provides a framework to accommodate multiple rationalities and experiences in relation to a particular ‘situation’. We argue that the common good, evaluated through logic and reasoning within a ‘situation’ or social reality, is multiple. This study contributes to our understanding of and making visible the contentions, compromises and conflicts that arise from a disaster and mobilize neglected or hidden accounts of what it means to achieve the common good.

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