Attempting Community Development Among Toxic Tailings: An Interactional Case Study of Community Health and Extralocal Institutions

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Community Development Journal

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Using Monticello, Utah, as our case study, we apply interactional field theory to an understudied area – the impact of extralocal institutions on community development related to environmental health issues. While the role of external forces in community development efforts is acknowledged in the interactional field theory literature (e.g. Brennan, M., & Luloff, A., (2007). Exploring rural community agency differences in Ireland and Pennsylvania. Journal of Rural Studies, 23(1), 52–61; Korsching, P., Sapp, S., & El-Ghamrini, S. (2003). Rural telephone company adoption of service innovations: A community field theory approach. Rural Sociology, 68(3), 387–409), there is minimal analysis of what happens to community development when encountering these forces. Therefore, we explore what can occur when collective community action related to local toxics and community-wide illness collides with an extralocal federal agency. To accomplish this, we analyze both in-depth interview data and archival data sources. Doing so begins to address the assertion in this journal that “theories of community, including but not limited to interaction theory, must better account for the existence of structural level constraints and the various ways in which such constraints are manifested and experienced at the local level” (Theodori, G. (2008). Constraints to the development of community. Community Development.: Journal of the Community Development Society, 39, 106).


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