Rural-Urban Differences in Environmental Concern in Canada

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Abstract

Abstract  Distinctions between rural and urban populations are well documented in environmental sociology literature. Rural and urban places may exert different influences on participation in environmentally supportive behavior (ESB) as well as on other forms of environmental concern (EC). The influence of these distinct geographies may be due to present circumstances or because of childhood socialization in these places. Using data from a national survey in Canada (n=51 664), we use cognitive (basic values, environmental worldview, and environmental attitude) and behavioral indicators (public and private sphere) of EC to explore differences among rural and urban populations and we include analyses accounting for place of socialization. We extend the conventional private sphere category of ESB by including stewardship behaviors. Results showed few differences between rural and urban residents on indicators of EC. Rural residents, however, scored higher on altruistic values, placed a higher priority on the environment, and reported higher participation in recycling and stewardship behaviors. Analysis that included place of socialization showed differences on environmental worldview, basic values, and some ESB. In terms of ESB, we conclude that residence and place of socialization may be less of a factor than opportunity and highlight the importance of providing services and facilities. We recommend future research on residence and ESB include a variety of behaviors that reflect opportunities for both rural and urban residents.

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