Public responses to water reuse – Understanding the evidence (review)
Theme: Public Engagement
Authors: H.M. Smith, S. Brouwer b, P. Jeffrey and J. Frijns
Abstract: Over the years, much research has attempted to unpack what drives public responses to water reuse, using a variety of approaches. A large amount of this work was captured by an initial review that covered research undertaken up to the early 2000s (Hartley, 2006). This paper showcases post-millennium evidence and thinking around public responses to water reuse, and highlights the novel insights and shifts in emphasis that have occurred in the field. Our analysis is structured around four broad, and highly interrelated, strands of thinking:
- work focused on identifying the range of factors that influence public reactions to the concept of water reuse, and broadly looking for associations between different factors;
- more specific approaches rooted in the socio-psychological modelling techniques;
- work with a particular focus on understanding the influences of trust, risk perceptions and affective (emotional) reactions; and
- work utilising social constructivist perspectives and socio-technical systems theory to frame responses to water reuse.
Some of the most significant advancements in thinking in this field stem from the increasingly sophisticated understanding of the ‘yuck factor’ and the role of such pre-cognitive affective reactions. These are deeply entrenched within individuals, but are also linked with wider societal processes and social representations. Work in this area suggests that responses to reuse are situated within an overall process of technological ‘legitimation’. These emerging insights should help stimulate some novel thinking around approaches to public engagement for water reuse.
Source: Journal of Environmental Management
Reference: 2018, vol 207, pages 43-50
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