The construction of a large scale power plant in the town of As Pontes in the late seventies and the associated influx of new workers would definitely change a place that by that time was not far from many others villages that form the most genuine rural Galicia. The closure of the adjacent opencast coalmine in recent years and its conversion into an artificial lake finally defined its particular idiosyncrasies up to date. By mean a mixed methods analysis (in-depth interviews, focus group and observation), this paper aims to study the social perception of the new artificial lake among locals, while also looking at the more theoretical questions about interdependencies between natural, social and built environment. Specifically, this paper is an opportunity to build upon the legacy of the American sociologist William Freudenburg and his concept of Opportunity-threat. Results accounts for the existence of two divergent social constructions that could be associated to an old social category and identity strategies among neighbours: long term residents and newcomers. First and most dominant, a perception of the lake as both a new symbol of the town due to its grandiosity and as an opportunity for an industrial development associated to water that could bring a new boom. On the other hand, a more sceptical perception among long term residents who not only distrust about the security of the lake itself but also see a menace to the social centrality of other historical symbols of the town, as the river or the town square.
See this video to know closely the reconversion process from mine to lake in As Pontes. In Spanish, though.
Judging by the research projects they carry out on urban studies as well as their approach, I find this research centre very interesting. I hope to follow them up. Find bellow the general description from their website:
The Max Lock Centre is an international development research and consultancy group based in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at the University of Westminster.
We focus on international sustainable development in all parts of the world, including: public policy and professional practice in urban and regional planning, poverty reduction, management and governance in the built environment, community empowerment and building resilience and the creation of sustainable livelihoods at neighbourhood, city and regional levels.
The Max Lock Centre is committed to the principle of ‘Planning by People’. Drawing on the concepts of civic diagnosis, community participation and sustainable development, the Centre continues the tradition of multi-disciplinary grassroots planning, developed over the last 50 years by the Max Lock Group both in the UK and overseas.
The Department of Development Sociology has a unique PROGRAMprofile that is unmatched by any other departments of sociology in the nation. The integrated package of scholarship on development, environment, population and community is its distinguishing characteristic and comparative advantage. Faculty and students in the department conduct theoretical and applied research, teaching, and outreach on the causes, dynamics, and consequences of social, cultural, political and economic change. Development Sociology majors study how societies develop and identify the social pathways that can help build a successful career. The department is well known for international, domestic, rural, environmental, agricultural, and population studies.
Our vision is to sustain our national and international leadership among Sociology departments, particularly our expertise in the sociology of development.
We regard our mission as first, playing a central role in informing contemporary debates about the scope, meaning and promise of development in a globalizing world; and second, as building such knowledge through engaged research with a wide range of constituencies.
We believe that understanding of and solutions to development problems can be found through original research, teaching, and outreach that support scholars, practitioners and organizations working to address some of the most pressing social, economic and environmental questions of our times
“Advertisers hope that if you can sufficiently change people’s feeling, that is, their attitudes toward a product, then the greater chance that people will go out and buy it, i.e. change their behaviour. Surprinsingly, the science doesn’t support this, in fact, there are countless studies that show that changing people’s attitude is not very effective way of changing people’s behaviour. It turns out that behaviour is motivated by a whole number of influences and attitudinal change is only one”