Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Advisor/Chair:

Peggy Petrzelka

Abstract

Hydraulic fracturing is a novel technological development that has pushed the extraction of energy resources forward. As technology improves and world oil and gas markets shift, more shale formations are being uncovered, and new drilling activities are seen as economically viable. I examine the ways in which residents perceive environmental and health risks of hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Ford Shale region of Texas, and how these perceptions differ depending on social position and where the resident is receiving their information. To understand how residents perceive the environmental and health risks associated with the Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas boom, or if these perceptions differ by social status and information sources, I conducted a qualitative analysis of key informant and focus group interview data, coding for major themes found in interview transcripts. I found that groups in lower social positions had increased concern regarding environmental and health risk perceptions than those in higher social positions. Additionally, respondents in lower social positions discussed all environmental and health risk perceptions with a relatively higher breadth and depth than those in higher social positions. Regarding information sources, those in higher social positions tend to receive more of their information on hydraulic fracturing from government officials and industry. Those in lower social positions receive more information from interpersonal networks, although they generally discussed a general lack of information concerning oil and gas development. These findings contribute to a relatively small field of growing research on resident perceptions in a hydraulic fracturing context. This research also brings attention to rural populations who are being uniquely impacted by hydraulic fracturing and provides insight into a region, the Eagle Ford Shale, where there is a need for more scholarly research.

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Sociology Commons

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