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Newest Publications from Sociology Faculty


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Courtney Flint

Braito M, H Leonhardt, M Penker, E Schauppenlehner-Kloyber, G Thaler, C Flint. 2020. The plurality of farmers’ views on soil management calls for policy mix. Land Use Policy 99: 104876.

While soil degradation is continuing to threaten the global agricultural production system, a common understanding of how to encourage sustainable soil management is missing. With this study, we aim to provide new insights on targeted policies that address the heterogeneity of farmers. We scrutinized the plurality of views on soil management among arable farmers in the Austrian (and European) policy context. To do so, we applied Q methodology, a method that identifies different perspectives on a topic present in a population and analyzes this subjectivity statistically. We interviewed 34 arable land farmers who varied in their farming backgrounds. The results yielded four different viewpoints on soil management held by the interviewed farmers: two rather ecocentric perspectives (Nature ParticipantsPleasure Seekers) and two rather anthropocentric perspectives (Traditional Food ProvidersProfit Maximizers). Our study shows that farmers’ soil management is influenced by more than economic considerations and suggests that a mix of policy approaches is needed to reach all farmers and avoid adverse effects of excluding farmers. We provide several suggestions for policymakers on how to complement agri-environmental policies: appealing to human-nature relationships, offering training and experimentation services, fostering social networks, and raising the social reputation of farmers.

Jennifer Givens

Givens, Jennifer E., Shawn K. Olson Hazboun, Michael D. Briscoe*, Richard S. Krannich. Climate Change Views, Energy Policy Support, and Personal Action in the Intermountain West: The Anti-Reflexivity Effect.” Society & Natural Resources. Accepted and published online May 2020.

Reducing the environmental impacts of energy production and consumption is part of addressing climate change. Prior research finds political-economic factors shape climate change views, perceptions of and policy support for renewable and nonrenewable energy, and pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs). This study contributes to research in these three areas by empirically testing the anti-reflexivity thesis, which posits that forces defending the industrial capitalist system are sources of anti-reflexivity, obstructing critical self-evaluation and societal action to address climate change. Using OLS and logistic regression analysis of survey data from respondents in five states in the US Intermountain West region, we find empirical support for the effect of anti-reflexivity on climate views, energy policy support, and PEBs. We also find that PEBs in the Intermountain West still largely occur in the realm of personal conservation actions rather than being politically focused, collectively organized, or leading toward systemic change.

Jorgenson, Andrew, Terrence Hill, Brett Clark, Ryan Thombs*, Peter Ore, Kelly Balistreri, and Jennifer E. Givens. 2020. “Power, Proximity, and Physiology: Does Income Inequality and Racial Composition Amplify the Impacts of Air Pollution on Life Expectancy in the United States?" Environmental Research Letters 15(2): 1-10.

This study advances research at the intersection of environmental degradation, social stratification, and population health in the United States. Expanding the theoretical principles of power, proximity, and physiology, we hypothesize that the harmful effect of fine particulate matter on life expectancy is greater in states with higher levels of income inequality and larger black populations. To test our hypothesis, we use two-way fixed effects regression analysis to estimate the effect of a three-way interaction between fine particulate matter, income share of the top ten percent, and the percent of the population that is black on state-level average life expectancy for all US states and the District of Columbia (2000–2014). The findings support our hypothesis: the estimated effect of the three-way interaction on average life expectancy is negative and statistically significant, net of various socioeconomic and demographic controls. Using post-estimation techniques, we visually illustrate that the harmful effect of fine particulate matter on life expectancy is especially pronounced in states with both very high levels of income inequality and very large black populations. We conclude by summarizing the theoretical and substantive implications of our findings, the limitations of the study, and potential next steps in this evolving area of interdisciplinary research.

Guadalupe Marquez-Velarde

Marquez-Velarde, Guadalupe, Nicole E. Jones, Verna M. Keith. 2020.  “Racial Stratification in Self-Rated Health among White and Black Mexicans”. SSM- Population Health 10(100509).

How do Mexicans of distinct racial backgrounds fit into the recognized patterns of racial health disparities? We conduct regression analyses using data from the 2000-2017 National Health Interview Survey to determine if Mexicans who self-identify as White or Black have a relative advantage or disadvantage in self-rated health in relation to Non-Hispanic (NH) Whites and Blacks in the U.S. Our results indicate that both Black Mexicans and White Mexicans have a significant disadvantage in relation to NH-Whites while White Mexicans have a slight advantage in relation to both NH-Blacks and Black Mexicans. Overall, our results suggest that studying health outcomes among Hispanics without considering race may mask inequalities not observed in the aggregate.