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Harrop, Emily
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: RA0421
In recent years traditional approaches to the assessment of health hazards have struggled to connect with the concerns of local communities, resulting in disputes over the interpretation of risk. The Nant-y-Gwyddon (NyG) landfill site in the Rhondda valley, south Wales, was shut down in March 2002 on the recommendations of an independent investigation, following five years of concerted and highly publicised protest action by a group calling itself Rhondda Against Nant-y-Gwyddon Tip (RANT). This local environmental protest provides an interesting case study in the sociology of public health risks and community mobilisation. The research has aimed to explore the key processes and relationships involved in the evaluation of perceived threats to public health in the period up to the closure of the tip in 2002. Rich documentary data formed the primary evidence for the case-study, and this has been used for two main purposes: first, to construct an historical account of the protest focusing specifically on the actions and perspectives of the residents who became local activists and secondly, to explore the positioning of the main actors in relation to some of the key issues and events. This research contributes to theory in several ways. The findings are illustrative of the different kinds of knowledge and expertise brought into play by both residents and statutory bodies, and as such connects with the literature on types of expertise, local knowledge and popular epidemiology. The research also highlights the need to locate such struggles in their broader social and cultural contexts, and suggests the importance of concepts such as dependency, hegemony and counter- hegemony, for understanding lay-expert relationships and protest more broadly. Following this, various examples are also given to suggest the development of several counter-hegemonic features of the residents' campaign, across epistemological, social and political domains.
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