Coastal Restoration as Contested Terrain: Climate Change and the Political Economy of Risk Reduction in Louisiana

Published on Sep 1, 2016in Sociological Forum
· DOI :10.1111/socf.12273
Kevin Fox Gotham24
Estimated H-index: 24
(Tulane University)
Although many studies have examined the effects of structural factors and institutional interests on risk estimation practices, little is known about the political dynamics surrounding divergent responses to risk reduction measures. This article examines the political economy of risk reduction, using a case study of Louisiana's coastal restoration planning and decision-making process. Specifically, the article draws on documentary evidence, long-term ethnographic field observations, and semistructured interviews to investigate the proliferation of risk conflicts and disputes surrounding the 2012 Louisiana Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast, the latest long-term risk-reduction plan to slow coastal erosion and achieve a sustainable coast. As I point out, coastal restoration in Louisiana is contested terrain where a variety of contentious groups struggle to influence and control debates over climate change risk and coastal erosion risk reduction. By examining the proliferation of contested risk definitions and risk reduction strategies in Louisiana, I aim to provide new insight into the organizational and institutional forces that shape positions on risk, the political-economic forces that create and allocate risk, and the social construction of community identity and culture through risk debates.
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