Date of Award:

5-1993

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee

Ronald L. Little

Abstract

Quality of life is an important issue for residents facing potential changes in their social and/or physical environments. Potential quality of life changes are especially relevant for rural residents of southern Nevada who are currently facing the possibility of living near the nation's first high-level nuclear waste repository. Whether the effects of the proposed repository are perceived as positive or negative, they nonetheless alter residents' perceptions of their quality of life.

A theoretical model was designed to guide the analyses in this study. It suggested that residents have both current perceptions and future expectations for themselves and their community. When a proposed facility is introduced into the area, residents are forced to evaluate their future expectations in light of the new information about the proposed project. Based upon their new evaluation, residents will either support/oppose a proposed facility.

From this theory sketch, eleven hypotheses regarding the relationship between quality of life and support/opposition for the proposed Yucca Mountain facility are derived. Using survey and ethnographic information obtained from rural Nevada residents, these hypotheses are examined.

The results indicate that although residents from all of the study communities are generally satisfied with their quality of life, they differ on both the types of anticipated repository-induced effects and whether they support or oppose the proposed repository. A relative absence of predictive power by quality of life measures, when taken in isolation from other variables, was unexpected. For all study communities, anticipated changes from the proposed project emerged as strong predictors of support/opposition, much stronger than the quality of life variables.

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