Application of state theory to ground water contamination incidents

Nancy L. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Traditional analysis of ground water contamination views the problem as the result of the creation of externalities from exchanges in the economic market arising from poorly defined rights to common property resources. Analysis of the effectiveness of state intervention focuses on the functional role of the state as enforcer, engineer, and allocator of resources in developing an efficient and equitable outcome. Ground water contamination can also be viewed as the result of the social organization of production practices in society. State theory provides a theoretical framework for understanding the relationship of the state to the social organization of production and how the functional role of the state derives from this relationship. Examination of state intervention of a ground water contamination incident in Friendship, Maine shows how the resolution of the problem more closely parellels the state's role in securing conditions for capital accumulation, social integration, and social consensus. Ground water contamination outcomes are not ahistorical, as in market exchange intervention, where liability and property rights control the outcome but reflect the state's activities to changing conditions of production and consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-498
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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