UBC Undergraduate Research

Behind the smoke screen : a history of air pollution in Vancouver from 1880-1960 Sangulin, Angelina


Air pollution is not constructed solely though the physical and natural, rather it is additionally socially constructed through structural, theoretical and emotional human activity/ideology. Through the case of Vancouver in 1880-1960, the study examines three key components of the social construction of air: energy regime changes, municipal regulations and development of environmental thought. Energy regimes are found to influence the social construction of air pollution through innovation, geopolitical relations, supply/demand economy and structures of power. Further, the creation of standardized forms of bureaucracy within the bourgeoning city of Vancouver and provision of regulatory power were found to socially construct air pollution. Environmental though constructed on a desire to cleanse the immediate environment, a desire for moral cleansing and ideological organization further contribute to the construction. I further argue, all the factors in play are interconnected within a mutually reinforcing cycle in which none of the factors can be singled out as the initiating force of the social construction of air pollution, rather they become integrated in a mutually reinforcing feedback cycle of constant re-shaping, re-enforcement and re-imagining.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada