American Sociological Association

Equifinality and Pathways to Environmental Concern: A Fuzzy-Set Analysis

Studying how people understand and develop concern for environmental problems is a key area of research within environmental sociology. Previous research shows that numerous social factors have measurable effects on environmental concern. However, results tend to be somewhat inconsistent across studies on this topic. One possible explanation for this is because these social factors are typically examined as independent from one another. However, these factors are interrelated in complex ways, as shown by research on the moderating effects of race and political ideology on education. Using qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), this study examines the complex ways in which previously identified social factors interact with one another to affect environmental concern. The findings suggest that aside from political ideology, all of the other factors should be understood in combination with others. The findings also suggest equifinality and asymmetry as there are multiple distinct pathways to environmental concern.


Jared Berry Fitzgerald