The Relationship between the Degree of Environmental Ethics and Social Capital with the Environmental Culture (Case Study: Kerman City)

In the recent decades, lack of consideration for the environmental effects of various industrial activities, services, and production is the most important factor threatening the human and natural environment in Kerman, Iran. Other environmental issues of this society are reports by official bodies of Kerman on water shortages in Qantas caused by excessive extraction of ground waters, destruction of natural fields, deterioration of rivers into sewers caused by irresponsible behavior, closing down a number of factories, industrial and mining sites by the Department of Environment for failure to meet the standards, hunting of the local wildlife, rangeland and forest fires, excessive use of private and outdated automobiles and their environmental effects, excessive water consumption, excessive use of water, natural gas, and electricity during peak hours, and so on. Numerous issues in combination with the absence of systematic data in this regard aggregates the need for research in this area. Therefore, considering the environmental crisis and frequent droughts as well as new phenomena, including dust storms, it is essential to discuss the transformation of environmental culture in the city of Kerman. Therefore, the main purpose of this research is to define the relationship between the environmental ethics and social capital and the environmental culture of the citizens of Kerman in the past decade as well as the present time. Also, the study attempts to determine the predictor variables of the environmental culture for the three various aspects of awareness, attitude, and behavior and for the environmental culture as a whole.

Material & Methods

This study was carried out using the quantitative approach and survey research method. A questionnaire was employed as the data collection method for the study. The statistical population consists of people aged 16 years and over residing in the four districts of Kerman, which comprise a population of 634132 individuals according to the 2016 statistics. In this paper, three different age groups were considered: 16-29, 30-49, and 50 and over. The reason for the selection of this age groups was to account for their behavior in the past 10 years, therefore the age requirements had to be defined in a way that the individual’s current age allows for the recollection of their behavior with respect to the environment. It is important to note that the questionnaire was defined for two time intervals, in a way that the respondents were required to explain their environmental behavior in the past ten years in items for present day. In this research, the Cochran formula was used to determine the sample size. The sample size is 384 persons as calculated by the Cochran formula.The research employed random cluster sampling by distributing 400 questionnaires between the respondents, and 374 of the questionnaires were recollected and used for statistical analysis. To describe and analyze the data, descriptive and inferential statistics with the SPSS software were used. In this study, the environmental culture was measured in three aspects of environmental knowledge with 5 parameters (recycling with 5 items, efficient use of water with 5 items, air pollution with 5 items, environmental species with 7 items, and dust storms with 5 items), environmental attitude with 25 items in five paradigms (limitation of growth with 5 items, non-anthropocentrism with 5 items, negation of human exemptionalism with 5 items, and dust storms with 3 items),  and the environmental behavior with 4 paradigms (efficient energy use with 5 items, efficient use of water with 5 items, air pollution with 6 items, environment-friendly recycling with 5 items, and local ecosystem with 3 items).

Discussion of Results & Conclusions

The results show that there is a significant relationship between the environmental ethics and environmental culture. It can be inferred that the interest in the environment is a metaphysical value and pro-environment attitudes are present among the prosperous groups, as their needs for food and security are fulfilled. In this respect, the behaviors can be measured as right or wrong based on this principle: an action is right if it preserves and promotes the biotic beauty, integrity, and evolution and is wrong if it disrupts this condition. Also, there is a significant relationship between social capital and environmental culture. It can be argued that the social capital as an important source of the individuals’ social actions can affect their environmental behaviors. Undoubtedly, as the level of social collaboration, integrity, trust, and participation, as important paradigms of social capital, grow between the people of a society, it is reflected in the society’s civil behaviors and environmental culture and increases the sense of responsibility of the people. Based on the obtained results, it can be said that there is no significant difference between the mean awareness and environmental behavior of the three different age groups. However, the mean of environmental attitude is different for each age group. It can be inferred that the attitudes of different age groups with respect to environmental changes are not equal and the people aged 50 and over show a higher mean. It means that this age group have a more pro-environment attitude compared to the other age groups. Also, the results show that the mean of environmental culture for individuals with high socio-economic status is higher compared to the individuals of lower socio-economic status (employment, income, education, and housing status). As a result, it can be inferred that those who have a higher socio-economic status have moved beyond the basic needs and reached the levels of elevated social needs. Therefore, the sense of environmentalism for these people is higher compared to the groups with a fragile socio-economic status who focus more on the basic needs of life. Also, people with higher socio-economic status are more aware of their environmental responsibilities; therefore, project an improved attitude and a more responsible behavior towards the environment, resulting in an elevated environmental culture.

Article Type:
Case Study
Journal of Applied Sociology the University of Isfahan, Volume:30 Issue:4, 2019
127 - 150  
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