Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Cornelia Butler Flora


Over the decade of the 1990s, there has been increasing attention to the factors that contribute to community organization for the protection of water quality. While much is theorized about the importance of education, leadership, and biophysical factors in this organization, few have laid out concrete models about the causal factors in creating community capacity for water quality protection. Building on research on social indicators, including indicators of community process, this research aims to demonstrate a clear relationship between attention to the social mobilization process and creation of community capacity to respond to water quality challenges. I use multivariate analysis on 50 case studies (collected from the academic and practitioner literature) to demonstrate these linkages. I then describe field research in three sites: Middle Rio Grande Planning Area, New Mexico; Lower Chippewa Watershed, Minnesota; and Carroll County, Maryland. I draw on literature in social movement studies, stakeholder analysis, the advocacy coalition framework, and participatory approaches to research and development in analyzing these cases and describing their efforts to develop the capacity for long-term water quality protection. In all three cases, water quality is related intrinsically with concerns about water quantity and hydrology, but also with discussions about development, society, political relations, and ideology. My findings indicate that disputes over actions surrounding water quality are linked to differing cognitive models about the way the world works and differing visions of argue that community-based water quality protection may be achieved if local advocates for water quality protection are willing to pay attention to participatory and mobilizing processes.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Stephen Philip Gasteyer



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

277 pages