Silicon Valley Notebook


Following a scholarly need to test compelling community level sociodemographic representations of environmental behaviors and outcomes, a sequential mixed method approach was used to evaluate the connections of human agency and systemic inequalities with carbon footprints. Statistical analyses of the 2016 SDG San Jose Dashboard data of city blocks and 2009 - 2013 ACS survey data were supplemented with interviews with eight climate action-oriented community engagement professionals in the South Bay. Boundary limiting socioeconomic conditions for systemic inequalities and human agency, dimensions of Gidden’s Structuration model, were specified. Partially supporting structural inequality theories, socioeconomic resources, primarily, and to a lesser extent dominant race concentration, were associated with larger carbon footprints, particularly when wealth was concentrated. Both human (time driven alone) and demographic (senior and mid-aged blocks) agencies were also in part at play in shrinking or even enlarging carbon footprints, in wealthier communities. These findings not only contributed to the literature on climate action, but also highlighted the need for targeted interventions in communities of different socioeconomic standing.