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Public understandings of air pollution: The 'localisation' of environmental risk

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/07/2001
<mark>Journal</mark>Global Environmental Change
Issue number2
Volume11
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)133-145
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Recent perspectives on public understandings of global environmental risk have emphasised the interpretation, judgement and 'sense-making' that takes place, modes of perception that are inextricably tied to aspects of 'local' context. In this paper we offer a current picture of the ways in which residents think about the problem of urban air pollution. To do this we utilise elements of a wider research project involving a survey and in-depth interviews with members of the public. In this way - and drawing upon the prior air pollution perception literature and recent work in the field of environmental and risk perception - we present a more analytical interpretation than has hitherto been approached. Conclusions are drawn which stress the localisation of people's understandings within the immediate physical, social and cultural landscape and also through a trust in personal experiences over any kind of information-based evidence. From this position, and with the development of implications for policy, we demonstrate the need to study public perceptions if the objectives of air quality, and more generally, environmental management are to be achieved.