Contaminated Communities: Coping With Residential Toxic Exposure, Second Edition

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Nonspecific Binding
  • Copyright: 2003-08-01
  • Publisher: Routledge

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In this wholly revised Second Edition, Michael Edelstein draws on his thirty years as a community activist to provide a much-expanded theoretical foundation for understanding the psychosocial impacts of toxic contamination. Informed by social psychological theory and an extensive survey of documented cases of toxic exposure, and enlivened by excerpts drawn from more than a thousand interviews with victims,Contaminated Communitiespresents a candid portrayal of the toxic victim's experience and the key stages in the course of toxic disaster. The Second Edition introduces dozens of new cases and provides expanded considerations of environmental justice, environmental racism, environmental turbulence, and environmental stigma, as well as a fully articulated theory of "lifescape." The new edition moves past the well-charted role of reactive environmentalism to explore issues for a proactivist approach that employs a "third path" of social learning, sustainable innovation, consensus building, and community empowerment.

Author Biography

Michael Edelstein is professor of Environmental Pyschology at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where until recently, he convened the Environmental Studies major. Since 1979, he has conducted a continuous program of research on the psycho-social impacts of environmental contamination. He is the co-author of Radon’s Deadly Daughters, as well as co-editor of Radon and the Environment. Dr. Edelstein’s research has also involved the impacts of environmental change on indigenous peoples and the practice of environmental impact assessment. In recent years, he has become involved in environmental exchanges with Russia, serving as a project director for two grants from the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the First Editionp. ix
Preface to 2004 Editionp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Toxic Exposure: The Plague of Our Timep. 1
The Plague as a Metaphor for Toxic Exposurep. 2
Contaminated Communitiesp. 6
Contamination as a Widespread Eventp. 7
Defining a Contaminated Communityp. 9
The Stages of Toxic Disasterp. 19
Collateral Damage in the Risk Societyp. 22
The Theory of Environmental Turbulencep. 24
Summary and Outline of the Bookp. 32
Legler: The Story of a Contaminated Communityp. 35
A Methodological Notep. 35
Groundwater Contamination in Leglerp. 37
Period of Incubationp. 38
Discovery and Announcementp. 50
Disruption of Lifestyle: Water Deliveryp. 55
The Hookup of City Waterp. 59
Lingering Concernsp. 59
Afterword About the Landfill's Afterlifep. 62
Lifescape Change: Cognitive Adjustment to Toxic Exposurep. 65
Defending Our Prior Assumptionsp. 65
Perceiving a Changed Statusp. 66
Perceptions of Healthp. 71
Inherent Uncertaintyp. 73
Confirmed Exposuresp. 78
Environmentp. 81
Loss of Personal Controlp. 89
The Inversion of Homep. 93
Loss of Social Trustp. 104
Conclusion: The Lifescape Impacts of Toxic Exposurep. 118
Individual and Family Impactsp. 119
Coping with Exposure: Individualsp. 119
Outcomes: Positive and Negativep. 122
Coping with Exposure: Couplesp. 136
Coping with Exposure: Childrenp. 141
Case Studies of Family Dynamicsp. 147
Stigmatized Relationships: Outsiders Just Don't Understandp. 152
Neighbors: Proximate Supportp. 158
Summary: Individual and Family Impactsp. 159
Disabling Citizens: The Governmental Response to Toxic Exposurep. 161
A Dialectic of Double Bindsp. 162
Communicational Distortion in the Institutional Contextp. 172
Distortion and the Communication of Bad Newsp. 176
Differing Paradigms of Risk Between Citizens and Regulatorsp. 178
Institutional Contextsp. 189
Conclusion and Summaryp. 191
The Enabling Response: Community Development and Toxic Exposurep. 193
Enablement Through Community Developmentp. 193
Keys to Enablement: Leadership and Activismp. 195
Key Benefits of Community Developmentp. 197
The Consensus/Dissensus Continuump. 201
Consensus and Dissensus in Leglerp. 205
Consensus and Dissensus Elsewherep. 209
Toxic Victims: A New Social Movement?p. 213
Sustainability as a Metaenvironmental Justice Issuep. 242
Conclusion: A Radical Environmental Populismp. 244
The Societal Meaning of Pollutionp. 245
Denial and the Culture of Contaminationp. 245
Rejecting a Contaminating Culture: Local Environmental Resistancep. 253
Changing the Culture of Contaminationp. 274
Cultural Immunity: Last Defense of the Contaminating Culturep. 279
Sustainability as the Third Stage of Modernityp. 282
Notesp. 293
Bibliographyp. 311
Indexp. 339
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