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Title:Political crisis and the politics of water pollution control in the 1970s
Author(s):Tsoukalas, Theodore H.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):van Es, Johannes C.
Department / Program:Sociology, Theory and Methods
Political Science, General
Sociology, General
Discipline:Sociology, Theory and Methods
Political Science, General
Sociology, General
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Sociology, Theory and Methods
Political Science, General
Sociology, General
Abstract:Sociological theories of the state have overlooked the theoretical and empirical significance of noneconomic policies, such as those dealing with environmental pollution control. This research investigates the sociopolitical context and formation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1977 in light of the theory of the relative autonomy of the state. The analysis has four objectives: (1) to delineate the degree of state legitimacy and its impact on the formation of the two acts; (2) to establish whether the formation of these two acts was independent of class influence and class political power; (3) to specify the role of the state in the distribution of political benefits to social classes; and (4) to identify the impacts of these two acts on the functions of the state.
Data on state legitimacy and political crisis are derived from previous studies on public trust in government and business and the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Surveys series. Data on class influence and class political power are derived from the testimony of witnesses at the U.S. Senate hearings that preceded the passage of the two acts. Data on the distribution of political benefits to social classes are derived from the same U.S. Senate hearings and other government documents. Data on the administrative arrangements responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the acts are derived from previous studies, congressional documents and the U.S. budget.
The major findings are as follows: The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 was proposed and passed during a period of severe crisis in the public's trust in government and business (political crisis). The federal government responded to that crisis, in part, through the enactment of a water pollution control policy that featured public participation and strict national water quality standards. The formation of the 1972 act is found to be independent of direct class influences. Through the 1972 act, however, the federal state made some concessions to classes other than the capitalist class. Political benefits took the form of legal safeguards whose goal was to promote the accumulation of capital and maintain existing relations between social classes.
In the late 1970s public trust in government and business increased considerably. During this period the federal government amended the 1972 act. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1977 extended industrial compliance deadlines for meeting the national water quality standards and weakened the implementation of provisions that encouraged public participation. Although the federal state made concessions to the capitalist class, again, political benefits to social classes took the form of legal safeguards to promote the accumulation of capital and to maintain existing class relations.
Issue Date:1991
Type:Text
Language:English
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/23716
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Tsoukalas, Theodore H.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9136752
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9136752


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