We examine people's reactions to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, most of whom are minorities living in poverty, and we do so in terms of system justification theory. We propose that the social system was indirectly threatened for the public when inadequate relief efforts exposed governmental shortcomings, called into questio the legitimacy of agency leadership, and highlighted racial inequality in America. In response to such system threats, both victims and observers (e.g., the general public, commentators, policy makers) are known to engage in various forms of system justification, including direct defense of the status quo, victim blaming, stereotyping, and internalization of inequality. These processes can reduce emotional distress and restore perceived legitimacy to the system, but they may have a number of troubling consequences for the storm victims in their efforts to return to normalcy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law