This qualitative study explored conceptualizations of environmentalism and community, as well as the connections of ethnicity to these concepts in a small but diverse sample. Semistructured interviews were conducted with eight participants and included a conceptual content cognitive mapping procedure. The resulting maps were examined for themes and ideas about the key concepts and the connections between them. Participants' ideas about environmentalism reflected beliefs about social responsibility and environmental protection. Participants viewed community in a number of ways but generally seemed to see it as a social unit that binds people together and cultivates values and action. Most participants did not perceive ethnicity as an important force affecting environmentalism in their lives, but their ideas about ethnicity did seem to anchor thoughts about community form and function. The conceptual content cognitive mapping process revealed unique ways that participants perceived these concepts and their inter-relationships. For example, it highlighted how community might rally people around environmental issues through participatory processes, as well as the ways that it might be a conduit for spreading knowledge and values about ethnicity and environmentalism. In addition to providing information that might be used to promote environmental action, the results of this investigation inform the study of social action by demonstrating that a number of concepts shape people's perceptions of social issues.
Marcus, Benjamin J.; Omoto, Allen M.; Winter, Patricia L. 2011. Environmentalism and community: connections and implications for social action. Ecopsychology 3(1): 11-24.