McClary, Cheryl Darlene
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My dissertation research examines the relationship between cultural models of individuals and their participation in efforts to attain procedural justice on water policy issues in an American urban coastal community. The interplay of three theoretical perspectives and mixed research methods are used to gain an understanding of how citizens acquire knowledge about hydrologic systems and water conditions and how they synthesize and use that knowledge to effect policy changes. Ethnoecological methods are used to examine the production and reproduction of knowledge about water and the associated behavior of residents, clean water advocates, water experts, and public policy-makers in two demographically disparate cities, Daphne and Prichard, in the Mobile, Alabama metropolitan area. Discourse analysis of knowledge, attitudes, and behavior expressed as domains are used to measure patterns of agreement and variation in cultural models. The domains include household water use, acquisition of water knowledge, sociodemographic conditions, perceptions about water quality conditions, water-related issues and policies, and the events that transform an individual’s knowledge into political actions. An environmental justice theoretical perspective assumes that sociological dynamics contribute to the cultural models and restrict or enable procedural justice on policy issues. A political ecological perspective is used to examine the effects of global conditions on the local research context. Competing resource uses require a multiscalar approach due to configurations of territories and geopolitical boundaries. The theoretical perspectives overlap in many ways when applied to studying people as they engage in water policy-making in Coastal Alabama. The project objective is to make a substantive contribution to theory about the relationship between citizen knowledge systems, their attitudes, and behavior, in the contexts of environmental anthropology and environmental justice in natural resources policy issues.