Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Sociology

Major Professor

R. Scott Frey

Committee Members

Stephanie Bohon, Robert Jones

Abstract

This thesis examines whether or not differences in people’s water conservation attitudes, political party orientation, severity of drought, and attention to drought news affect their engagement in water conservation behavior during a time of continued water shortage. Previously, it has been found that attitudes are predictive of intentions that relate to behaviors (e.g., Dietz et al. 2005). Democrats have been shown to be more pro-environmental then Republicans (e.g., Dunlap et al. 2000). It has also been found that severity of drought is positively related with environmental concern (e.g., Accury and Christianson 1990), and access to news information is directly related to willingness to take action (e.g., Johnson and Scicchitano 2000).

However, during a time of drought, what is the relationship between individual water conservation attitudes and behaviors? Do conventional understandings of political party orientation and water conservation behaviors hold during a time of drought? Do those living in counties that experience more severe drought engage in more water conservation behaviors? Do those who pay more attention to drought news engage in more water conservation behaviors? Using data from Georgia’s 2007 Peach State Poll, I explore the answers to these questions.

I examine how water conservation attitudes (Model 1), political party orientation (Model 2), drought severity (Model 3), attention to drought news (Model 4), sociodemographics, controls, and other factors from models 1-4 (Model 5) influenced water conservation behavior during the 2007 Georgia drought.

Results indicate that differences in people’s water conservation attitudes, political party orientation, drought severity, and attention to drought news did not significantly affect their water conservation behavior during the 2007 drought. However, race, class, and gender variables in the full model did have a significant effect, which seems to suggest that one’s location in the social stratification system affects their opportunities to engage in water conservation behavior. Therefore, environmental policy issues should not be considered apart from social issues.

The fundamental theoretical significance of the following research is that we affect and are in turn affected by the biophysical world in a dialectic fashion. Recognizing the quality, quantity, and interrelatedness of nature-society relationships is essential for future research.

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