|dc.description.abstract||Environmental attitudes are an important and frequently used concept in social and environmental research and in the practise of environmental management. Numerous studies have been done in connection with environmental attitudes, but many of these have been criticised by several scholars and researchers from various disciplines for being atheoretical and non-cumulative, and for failing to contribute sufficiently to a cohesive understanding of the construct.
This study explored community environmental attitude change around the Lake Ellesmere - Te Waihora area of Canterbury, New Zealand, over the course of the twentieth century. A qualitative and quantitative mixed-method approach to a retrospective longitudinal research design was adopted. The research involved the indexical use of the Environmental Attitudes Inventory (EAI), a recently developed, theoretically based, standardised measure of environmental attitudes, in conjunction with the application of a discursive analytic framework. The use of both a standardised instrument and a discursive framework for the analysis of the contents and features of a stratified random sample of 1000 archive issues of community newspapers from the years 1900 to 2000 involved the integration of quantitative analysis with qualitative research which aimed to address the need for cumulative and theory-based studies of environmental attitudes, without forgoing the benefit of insights that may be derived from qualitative exploration.
The findings of this research show that community environmental attitudes around the Lake Ellesmere - Te Waihora area are multi-faceted and are reflective of micro- and macro-level environmental discourses and practices, and the social history of the lake. These are manifest in two particular aspects. First, the environmental attitudes expressed have been predominantly utilitarian over the course of the twentieth century, although a gradual rise in preservationist attitudes, over time, is evident. Community environmental attitude change involves the mutually independent factors of 'utilisation' and 'preservation'. Significantly, utilitarian and preservationist community environmental attitudes were not found to sit at opposite ends of a single continuum; that is to say, a linear change, over time, from utilitarian to preservationist attitudes was not clearly shown in the data. Second, community environmental attitudes occur within existing micro-level social constructions and environmental contexts that tend to interact with, and draw from, larger and more extensive or pervasive discourses at the macro-level. Macro-level discourses, such as that of global trade and capitalism, are inflected into the local, becoming relevant to a variety of micro-level social structural and environmental situations, such as those involving practices of lake management and agricultural land use. From these two main findings, this study argues that community environmental attitudes can be re-conceptualised as a non-bipolar, multi-dimensional construct with a structure consisting of the two distinct factors of 'utilisation' and 'preservation'. Community environmental attitude typologies can be drawn based on the nature of the combination between these two distinct factors. Furthermore, changes in wider meaning systems produce changes in community environmental attitudes and changes in environmental practices.
In sum, this research has conceptual and theoretical implications for how community environmental attitudes and environmental discourses may be understood in the various disciplines and fields of environmental studies and the social sciences, and how alternative research approaches on the environmental attitude construct may be conducted. From a practical perspective, this study suggests that an understanding of community environmental attitudes and the dynamics of community environmental attitude change should inform strategic decisions and management interventions in wetland environments.||en