Inderscience Publishers

Building and breaking a bridge of trust in a Superfund site remediation

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Trust is widely recognised as a key variable in perceptions and decision-making about environmental risks. However, most considerations of trust treat it as a simple two-agent relationship. Based on an analysis of a contaminated site cleanup in New Jersey, we identify a more complex construction of trust formed between multiple stakeholders. We refer to this construction as 'bridging'. In the case study presented, two distrusting stakeholders were able to achieve cooperation through moderate links of trust with two intermediaries. Then, we show how this bridge of trust can be broken by the formation of too much trust, as the intermediaries come to be seen by one distrusting stakeholder as coopted by the other.

Keywords: hazardous waste sites, public participation, social networks, Superfund, trust, environmental risks, risk perception, risk communication, contaminated sites, site cleanup, cooperation

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