Death on the roof: Race and bureaucratic failure

Harvey Molotch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The inadequacy of response to the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina should not be attributed to "bureaucracy." Real bureaucracies, as opposed to idealized Weberian models of them, often deal effectively with changing or even unique circumstance. The failure was not in a mode of social organization but in the perverse priorities, inflected with racism, that allowed "work to rule" as default practice. Given the situation at hand, this was pathological bureaucracy, not normal bureaucracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-34
Number of pages4
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


  • "Work to rule"
  • Bureaucracy
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • New Orleans
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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