Ryder SS, Dickie JA & Devine‐Wright P (2023) “Do you Know What's Underneath your Feet?”: Underground Landscapes & Place‐Based Risk Perceptions of Proposed Shale Gas Sites in Rural British Communities. Rural Sociology. https://doi.org/10.1111/ruso.12513
Resource extraction relies on human interaction with the underground, often near rural communities. Yet, little research has explored localized, place-based relationships to the underground and subsequent concerns tied to proposed energy activities. This paper highlights the importance of place in localized risk perceptions of proposed shale exploration in two rural communities in the United Kingdom. Through qualitative case studies we examine how senses of place and place-based knowledges are shaped by underground landscapes. Further, we explore how these inform local risk perceptions of shale gas exploration. Our findings demonstrate how senses of place and place-based knowledges in each community are embedded in local rural culture that stretches back multiple generations, and are at least in part rooted in human connections to, and understanding of, the subsurface. Connections between surface and underground aspects of places create concerns about distinctiveness, which heighten residents' perceptions of more generalized shale gas risks. The research findings broaden our understanding of how places encompass both surface and underground landscapes, with significant implications for risk perceptions in energy contexts. These findings raise important questions for incorporating place-based and plural sets of knowledge in risk management and decision-making for future underground energy projects that contribute to net-zero strategies.
Sociology and Political Science