Coastal Residents' Perspectives on Environmental Health Risk Factors: Analysis Using Cultural Theory and Deliberative Discussion
Bundrick, Melton Lee
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this project was to study the perception of environmental health risks among coastal South Carolina residents and the effect of cultural worldview and deliberative discussions on their perception of risks. Risk perceptions were analyzed through a survey administered to state and coastal residents in the fall of 2017 and included questions regarding cultural worldview and information based on location. Survey data were also compared before and after a deliberative forum to assess whether and how an individual’s perception of risks changed as a result of the forum. In this forum, coastal residents were educated by expert scientists on environmental issues and were later able to deliberate on the issues with fellow coastal residents to find solutions and seek strategies to mitigate environmental health risks. Qualitative data analysis was also conducted on 15 transcripts of group discussions during the forum through the use of open coding to identify themes and topics within conversations throughout the deliberations. The mixed-method approach used provides insights into how coastal residents perceive environmental health and factors which influence health risks. Data suggests an egalitarian cultural worldview and location of residence are significant factors for determining an individual’s risk perception concerning factors influencing environmental health. The group discussions suggest that cultural worldview plays a role in risk perception through the process of placing weights on social, economic and environmental factors within a community. Further studies such as this one should include a diverse group of participants in order to ensure a variety of perspectives enter the deliberations. Deliberations such as these can in turn be used to better inform decision-makers about how residents perceive environmental health risks and provide policy recommendations based on common ground found amongst a diverse citizenry.