Surviving Sandy – Changing Views and (American) Dreams in Times of Vulnerability
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When hurricane Sandy struck the coasts of New York City, people's houses and lives were lifted off their foundations. This study tells the story of Sandy survivors in one of the most hard hit areas of New York City – the East Shore of Staten Island. It investigates the impact of hurricane Sandy on people's lives, worldviews, and (American) dreams. In the aftermath of the hurricane, governmental and voluntary relief efforts have revealed flaws and strengths in society. These flaws and strengths as well as their underlying ideologies are examined. Local grassroots and volunteer organizations have come into being when governmental aid was perceived as too little too late. When neighbors reached out to help one another, they realized that they had missed a sense of community before the hurricane. This revealed the basic structure of society, a concept that will be explained throughout this thesis. In times of (financial) vulnerability, the American dream of social upward mobility seems less attainable. People's experiences have made them reflect upon these aspects and have changed or reinforced their perspectives. This qualitative research study is inspired by the methodology of engaged anthropology. To canvas the various different situations people are dealing with, East Shore residents and volunteers have been approached by participant observation. To see how the hurricane has impacted the worldviews and dreams of the future generation – students at the College of Staten Island – open interviews have been applied. These data collection methods have been supplemented with relevant social scientific literature.