Associate Professor of Sociology, Director of Graduate Studies
Senior Research Associate, Center for Policy Research
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University


Research Summary

As a rural environmental and natural resource sociologist, my work focuses on the mutually constructive relationships between social institutions and the natural environment. Broadly speaking, I am interested in how social, economic, and political structures affect environmental behaviors, norms, and outcomes. I address core sociological issues of agency and structure by examining how individual environmental norms and behaviors intersect with wider social and natural structures. Empirically, my research has focused on two primary areas: 1) the agrifood system and 2) resource-dependent rural communities. 


“The basic essence of environmental sociology has thus been to recover, and uncover, the ‘materiality’ of social structure and social life…”

— Frederick H. Buttel, 1996


Agrifood Research

Within my study of agrifood systems, I have examined the impact of a transformation towards neoliberal, market-based environmental regulation and the multiplicity of structural and normative barriers to adopting new environmental behaviors. View Projects →


Resource Dependency

Within my study of resource-dependent rural communities, I have examined the role of natural amenities in driving rural population growth and second-home development and the impact of these population and housing changes on communities and resource management. View Projects →


Minority Stakeholder Engagement in Resource Management

I am extending my environmental sociological research to a new area by examining the engagement of Vietnamese American fishers with state and federal resource management agencies on the US Gulf Coast. Vietnamese Americans are responsible for over 50% of the US Gulf Coast shrimping industry and have endured the recent traumas of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Macondo oil spill. These crises highlighted the vulnerabilities of these minority stakeholders and breaks in engagement of local, state, and federal resource management agencies tasked with engaging and regulating fishing stakeholders. View Projects →


Rebecca L. Schewe
426 Eggers Hall
Center for Policy Research
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13244

(315) 443-9894