Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

Richard S. Krannich


Richard S. Krannich


Mark W. Brunson


Doublas B. Jackson-Smith


Sandra Marquart-Pyatt


Peggy Petrzelka


Drawing from literature on place, this dissertation studies place dynamics in relationships between people and a mixed amenity place. Using Great Salt Lake (GSL), Utah, as a case study, I use a social constructionist approach to examine the sense of place held by those who live nearest to the lake. I analyze qualitative interview and focus group data as well as quantitative survey data to discern the meanings the lake holds for these nearest neighbors and to examine distinctions between people who see the lake differently. This study is relatively unique in its examination of relationships with a mixed amenity place, as prior place research has focused on high amenity places such as resort locations. A number of distinctions were found. Place attachment to GSL was less widespread than seen with high amenity places, and there were some residents for whom the lake held negative meanings. The lake held multiple meanings for many research participants, including combinations that appeared incongruous in mixing both positive and negative lake images. Some participants appeared to have no sense of the lake. Additionally, there was evidence of social stigma related to living near the lake. This study can help natural resource managers, community leaders and policy makers to better understand the relationships between local residents and GSL, which prior place research has shown to be a useful indicator of environmental concern, commitment to the place, and support for resource management. There were many things residents did not appear to know about the lake, including, for example, the natural workings of the lake ecosystem, the effect built features have had on this ecosystem, and the economic contributions to local communities, counties and the state from lake-related enterprises. Also of interest, these nearest neighbors talked about how changes related to the lake have affected them. This study provides justification for further work on people-place dynamics with mixed amenity places, as it revealed dynamics not be seen in research on higher amenity settings. The study also demonstrates the need for continued social science research on GSL, to provide further understanding of people's relationships with this important place.



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