Date of Award

12-2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

Robert Emmet Jones

Abstract

This dissertation examines public concern for the environment, public perceptions of environmental health problems and environmental injustice among residents living in Clarksville, Tennessee. Eleven hypotheses pertaining to environmental concern, health and justice between blacks and whites and among blacks are discussed and tested. Support for each hypothesis was judged by analyzing data from in-depth interviews and a mail survey of a random sample of residents living in and around the Red River community of Clarksville, Tennessee. Independent Sample T tests, bivariate correlations, and stepwise regression analyses were used to test these hypotheses. Results showed that blacks are more concerned about environmental problems in their neighborhood, about the quality of its overall environment, and about the seriousness of these environmental problems than whites. Males, Democrats and older black people were found to be more concerned about the environment than their respective black counterparts. Although perceptions of environmental health and race accounted for much of the variation in environmental concern, persistent inequities in potential exposure between groups (blacks and whites) were found. Blacks expressed a greater concern about environmental injustice and adverse health effects from exposure to contaminants than whites. Recommendations are offered for addressing these inequities and for future research.

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