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Social process of environmental risk perception, preferences of risk management and public participation in decision making: A cross-cultural study between the United States and China

Posted on:2006-06-03Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:The Ohio State UniversityCandidate:Duan, HongxiaFull Text:PDF
Environmental risk is the threat to human beings and what they value from natural or human-driven hazards associated with global change. Environmental risk is socially constructed, and risk analysis needs to address not only physical environmental processes but also social, economic, cultural, and political views to provide more insights for environmental management. This cross-cultural study between China and the U.S. intended to examine how people's perceptions of environmental risk, preferences in risk management, and perspectives of participatory decision processes and quality vary within the different social, cultural and political systems.; The results indicated that the social processes of environmental risks and participation in decision making were significantly different between Americans and Chinese. In general, the Chinese were more concerned about environmental risks, and they perceived the environmental issues to be more risky to health, to the environment, and to economic development in China than Americans; perception of environmental risks varied greatly with issue types within the two groups.; In the social process, the Chinese and Americans both generally showed low trust in their government and society, but the trust level was significantly higher for the Americans than the Chinese. Regarding social value, the Chinese were more adherent to the New Ecological Paradigm (NEP) value than the Americans, and the Americans were more optimistic about human and environmental futures and more open to change than the Chinese. Values such as action to reduce the risks, tradition, and self-transcendence had no significant cultural differences. The self-reported risk knowledge for the Chinese was significantly higher than that of the Americans, and the Chinese reported more risk experiences than the Americans.; The results revealed that the separate national models have different power in explaining the social processes of risk perceptions and risk management. In the American model, social trust, social value, and risk experience had significant impacts on perception of environmental risks. Risk experience, social value, and risk perception significantly impacted preference in risk management, except for social trust. In the Chinese model, impacts of social value and risk experience were statistically significant, but social trust was not. However, only social trust was a significant predictor of preference in risk management. Social trust and risk perception were found positively correlated only in the Chinese model.; The Americans and Chinese both perceived the participatory decision process and quality differently. Americans rated the more intensive advisory participation method as high quality, good outcome, effective process, and more public impact on the decision for both hazardous waste and endangered species, while the Chinese rated those aspects high for the advisory committee participation methods about hazardous waste disposal and for a public meeting on an endangered species decision. Overall, both groups considered that good decision quality depends on effective public input in the decision, good participation process and outcome. Outcome was thought to be the most important factor to affect their evaluation of the decision quality. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)...
Keywords/Search Tags:Risk, Environmental, Decision, Social, Process, Participation, Public, Value
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