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The Black-White Environmental Concern Gap: An Examination of Environmental Paradigms.
The Journal of Environmental Education
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Abstract: Social scientists have examined a number of environmental issues, including attitudes and world views held by various subgroups of the population. Although the results of past studies are inconclusive, they suggest that African Americans are somewhat less concerned about environmental issues than Whites are. In this study, differences in environmental world views were investigated by contrasting dimensions of the two opposing paradigms: the Dominant Social Paradigm (DSP) that emphasizes exploiting nature for its utility and the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) that emphasizes harmony with and stewardship toward nature. The 72 White and 40 African American respondents were selected through a random sample of a metropolitan area of Virginia. Both similarities and differences were observed. Results of a regression analysis showed race to be a significant predictor variable for many issues. African Americans gave greater endorsement to the DSP ideas of no limits to growth, lower valuation of nature for its own sake, and lower concern for pollution. Yet, they were more aligned than Whites with the NEP idea of a society with greater economic equality and were similar to Whites in favoring an NEP view of avoiding risks, valuing nature as sustainer of human life, and engaging in more participatory politics. The results indicate that some differences do exist between African Americans and Whites, although Whites are not consistently more pro-environmental. Furthermore, the differences are small and may arise out of the complex issues that African Americans face and not from lack of concern about the environment.
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