Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Document Type



Public support for government assistance to the needy has long been the focus of scholarly attention. Some assert that the perceived race of recipients of such aid is the primary determinant influencing such support. Others cite that it is the degree of trust one has in government institutions while still others cite American notions of individualism and self-reliance versus collective responsibility. The present study analyzes public opinion regarding aid to the City of New Orleans and its inhabitants following Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flooding of the city. Several important findings emerge from this analysis. First, it cannot be demonstrated that levels of confidence in public institutions determine support for rebuilding New Orleans. Second, support for rebuilding New Orleans and perceptions of its residents seem to be primarily determined by respondents’ views regarding the appropriate role of government in aiding the needy. The events following Hurricane Katrina were viewed in largely ideological terms based on one’s predispositions. Third, the evidence suggests that racial perceptions appear to have a more subtle and nuanced effect in shaping the policy preferences of the very conservative than those of the very liberal.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Parent, T. Wayne