We thank Alexandra Rutherford, Fran Cherry, Rhoda Unger, and Peter R. Walker for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this paper. Any errors of fact or interpretation in this text are our own.
Foreground and Background: Environment as Site and Social Issue
Article first published online: 14 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 67, Issue 1, pages 179–196, March 2011
How to Cite
Opotow, S. and Gieseking, J. (2011), Foreground and Background: Environment as Site and Social Issue. Journal of Social Issues, 67: 179–196. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2010.01691.x
- Issue published online: 14 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 14 MAR 2011
To examine how the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) has engaged with environmental issues throughout its 75-year history, we consulted five SPSSI-based data sources. Our analysis, attentive to the larger sociopolitical contexts over time, focuses on SPSSI's attention to the physical environment, the places in which social living and interactions occur. In SPSSI's early years, social issues research was often situated within specific locales. Since 1960 and the emergence of environmental psychology and the environmental movement, SPSSI increasing focuses on environment as a social issue in its own right as well part of other social issues. Over time there has been a decline in mentions of the physical environment in SPSSI's methods texts. This historical analysis highlights the specifics of context in SPSSI's environmental research and urges attention to the physical as well as social aspects of environment in research and activism.