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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Affluence, Risk and Community Engagement: The Case of Ascon and Huntington Beach


This paper explores the engagement and mobilization of an affluent community in relation to a known environmental hazard. It extends our understanding of individual responses to environmental risk and provides at least one response to the long-unanswered question: how would affluent communities respond to hazardous sites? Despite the contention that these resource-rich communities will respond differently than the less affluent communities that traditionally have these environmental hazards, we find no meaningful difference in their mobilization and engagement. Despite their perception of risk associated with the Ascon landfill in Huntington Beach and  relatively little trust in government to clean up the site, the community is largely unwilling to engage in activities related to site cleanup. This is an important contribution to our understanding of what generates individual action for environmental hazards and compels us to re-examine our understanding of what (if any) role socio-economic status plays in an individual’s response.

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