Since 1964, the designation and subsequent preservation of federal land as wilderness has generated social and environmental change in the Mountain West. These vast and often spectacular areas have attracted a population of wealthy second-homeowners and tourists, and have established the presence of the federal government in this region via the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. While native ecosystems are restored and preserved within wilderness areas, the fate of adjacent, unprotected, lands is often contested. Nearby communities, then, are confronting these changes in the population and landscape. This thesis examines the role of certain social and economic structures in shaping perceptions of wilderness held by residents of Ketchum, Stanley, and Challis, Idaho, three small towns with very different demographics and economies. Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class, Max Weber's Class, Status, and Party, and Allan Schnaiberg's Environmental Values Theory provide a theoretical framework that addresses the intricacies of socio-economic stratification and the influence of class position on attitudes towards land use. In-depth interviews give residents of Ketchum, Stanley, and Challis the opportunity to express perspectives and interpretations of changes wrought by the establishment of Wilderness, and demonstrate the complexity of this issue. The relationship between these communities and nearby wilderness areas is a product of residents' economic dependence on or independence from the land, attitudes towards the federal government, social class, and environmental values.


Mariola, Matthew


Sociology and Anthropology


Environmental Policy | Historic Preservation and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Place and Environment


social class, wilderness

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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