Environmental Controversies, Interactional Resources, and Rural Communities: Siting Versus Exposure Disputes

Stephen R. Couch, Steve Kroll‐Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Abstract Differences in the types of social conflict occuring in facility siting disputes and toxic contamination cases are compared. An ecological‐symbolic perspective and the concept of strong and weak ties are used to interpret the nature of social conflict in two rural Pennsylvania communities and in cases in the literature. Overall, community solidarity appears likely to be enhanced in siting disputes and undermined in exposure situations. To explain this, two conflict paths are developed that move from the presence or absence of the hazard agent to individual perceptions, the generation of collective threat beliefs and the formation of strong ties, the emergence of alternative leadership and its relationship to official authorities, and finally the formation of weak ties. In each case, the type of community conflict results from the nature of the perceived environmental threat and the social process that threat sets in motion. Practical implications for rural community development are discussed. 1994 Rural Sociological Society

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
JournalRural Sociology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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