Please in my backyard: Quiet mobilization in support of fracking in an appalachian community

Colin Jerolmack, Edward T. Walker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Environmental justice and social movements scholarship demonstrates how not-in-my-backyard activism by more privileged communities leaves the disadvantaged with “locally unwanted land uses.” Yet it overlooks instances of local support for risky industries. Our ethnographic case shows how a rural, white, mixed-income Pennsylvania community adopted a please-in-my-backyard stance toward shale gas extraction (fracking). Residents invited development on their land and supported it through quiet mobilization. While landowners prioritized benefits over risks, economics cannot fully explain their enthusiasm. Consistent with public opinion research, partisan identities and community obligations undergirded industry support even when personal benefits were limited. Devotion to self-reliance and property rights led residents to defend landowners’ freedom to lease their land. Cynicism toward government precluded endorsing environmental regulation, and the perception of antifracking activists as “liberal” outsiders linked support for fracking with community solidarity. This case illustrates why communities may champion risky industries and complicates theories of nonmobilization.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)479-516
    Number of pages38
    JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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