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Title:Impact Ecology: A Development and Application
Author(s):Opryszek, Paul Allen
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Abstract:Social impact assessment was initiated in response to legislation and regulations designed to protect the physical and social environment. Assessing the effects of proposed projects and policy actions is important because these events have great potential for generating unanticipated and massive changes that are incidental to their primary objectives.
Shelbyville Reservoir is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project typical of the kinds of public works which can have incompletely understood social impacts. Study of this reservoir on an Ex Post basis helped provide insights for development of a social impact assessment theory which could be used to improve the ex ante study of future project impacts elsewhere.
Social change is the broad theoretical concern addressed in the study of social impacts at Lake Shelbyville. A modification of human ecology is developed here which is applied to social impact assessment (SIA). This new SIA theory is called Impact Ecology, which is an extention and refinement of the Duncan P,O,E,T ecological perspective. The notion of equilibrium between community integration and differentiation is crucial to the understanding of an impact event. Unbiased ways of examining social equilibrium (or its lack) are developed by a consideration of several overlooked possibilities for attaining equilibrium.
The internal logic of the Impact Ecology theory is developed into a rigorous, simple, symbolic statement. This permits a rigorous derivation of specific research hypotheses if one accepts the assumptions of the theoretical stance. This clarity is felt to be a major contribution, and is developed using modeling techniques proposed by von Neumann (familiar mostly to economists). The Population Influx Hypothesis is developed from a review of social impact literature; the expectation is that most social impacts are a result of some sort of influx of persons into the "impacted" area. Knowledge of the incoming population's size, individual duration of stay, and activities can (among other variables) direct an assessor's attention toward the most significant aspects of an impact situation.
An attempt is made to implement the theory for the case of Lake Shelbyville. Satisfaction data from the Illinois: Today and Tomorrow survey (of Professor Rabel J. Burdge) is used to develop surrogate indicators of community integration and differentiation using factor and discriminate analysis techniques. Community differentiation was found to have been increased in the impacted area as compared to a control region, as expected. Contrary to hypothesis, it was found that community integration was not affected. The potential adaptability of a community given time and aid is worth consideration in future studies, and inclusion in pre-project benefit-cost analyses. The equilibrium between integration and differention was disrupted by the reservoir, in the direction anticipated by theory. Direct measures of the impact of the reservoir confirmed that the surrogate measurement methods used here were quite reasonable. Both direct and indirect methods indicate that the introduction of Lake Shelbyville was an example of mild disruption of the social equilibrium.
The theory was in fact useful in assessing the events at the study site, and shows considerable promise as an objective theoretical approach to SIA. The development of an SIA theory would go far to make SIA studies more economical and useful by focusing attention upon the most important aspects of such situations.
Issue Date:1981
Description:308 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8127660
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-14
Date Deposited:1981

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