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Understanding minority residents' perceptions of neighborhood risks and environmental justice: New modalities, findings, and policy implications


There is a pressing need to more deeply understand how incompatible land-use patterns intersect with place attachment and experiences of environmental injustice. While environmental policy is strongly influenced by the classic, probabilistic model of environmental risk, the present research instead aims to develop notions of environmental impact that more closely reflect the lived experience of community residents. This entails employing a phenomenological stance toward the analysis of environmental impacts, as well as research methods that seek to uncover the narratives and cognitive representations that residents actually employ. In our exploration of these issues in the town of Val Verde, California, we discover how a nearby landfill encroaches on the everyday lives of the residents in ways that go beyond the classic model of risk. For example, rather than employing a positivist measure of environmental hazard, residents experience the landfill viscerally and emotionally in terms of its impacts on their everyday lives. Broadly stated, analysis is not simply to be associated with thought, but also with lived experience. We conclude the article by reflecting on the implications of this type of research for policy analysis. © , Locke Science Publishing Company, Inc. Chicago, IL, USA.

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