Culture and Economic Action
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Culture and Economic Action

Edited by Laura E. Grube and Virgil Henry Storr

This edited volume, a collection of both theoretical essays and empirical studies, presents an Austrian economics perspective on the role of culture in economic action. The authors illustrate that culture cannot be separated from economic action, but that it is in fact part of all decision-making.
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Chapter 12: Pastor response in post-Katrina New Orleans: navigating the cultural economic landscape

Emily Chamlee-Wright


The early chapters that appear in this volume sketch out a program of study in what I have elsewhere described as “cultural economy”—a framework of thought that recognizes that economic, political and social entrepreneurs are situated within a particular cultural context, see the world and identify opportunities through a culturally defined lens and draw upon cultural narratives to make sense of the world and carve out strategies of effective action. This chapter examines the role that church pastors played in post-disaster recovery in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. The chapter argues that New Orleans pastors were both enabled and constrained by the cultural context in which they operated and that the narratives from which they drew shaped their strategies for action. Further, the chapter describes how New Orleans pastors navigated, deployed and in some cases manipulated socially embedded resources in order to devise and carry out strategies for post-disaster recovery. These cases advance the cultural economy project by examining the ways in which social entrepreneurs, though sometimes constrained by the positions they hold within a cultural context, will also call upon, shift and deploy socially embedded resources as they pursue their development strategies.

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