Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Parisi, Domenico

Committee Member

Duane Gill

Committee Member

Jones, James

Committee Member

Hempel, Lynn

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Sociology


Sociological studies of society-environment interactions are based on a premise that population well-being is dependent on the environment. Here, I argue that not only are people innately connected to the environment, but the environment also bonds people to one another. That is, people have a mutual obligation to one another to care for the environment. An often ignored factor is that individual participation toward protecting and improving the quality of the environment rests upon the local social and spatial context in which the individual is situated. The ability of individuals in a local environment to come together to identify issues, develop common interests, and act collectively toward the local environment can be understood from a social capital perspective. Social capital represents social resources such as trust, information sources, and social norms embedded in social networks that promote common environmental values and facilitate proenvironmental actions. The main objective of this study was to examine the extent to which social capital differentially influences environmentalism, net of demographic and economic characteristics, across rural and urban populations and across geographic regions. Data for this study came from the 2000 General Social Survey (GSS) Environment II Module conducted in conjunction with the 2000 International Social Survey Program. The dataset was used to operationalize dependent and independent variables and test the research hypotheses regarding differential effects of social and spatial context on environmentalism using a national cross-sectional sample. For the dependent variable, I conceptualized three dimensions of environmentalism: environmental attitudes, environmental concern, and environmental behavior. The study included three sets of independent variables: social capital, sociodemographic, and spatial context. The multivariate analysis included two parts. The first examined the relationship between environmentalism and social capital, net of sociodemographic and spatial characteristics. The second part of the analysis examined the extent to which the social capital parameters, net of other factors, changed in urban and rural contexts. The most relevant finding of the study was that the influence of social capital on various aspects of environmentalism is inconsistent. In general, results confirm social capital is an important correlate of environmentalism.



social capital||environment||General Social Survey||region||rural-urban||local