Last year, the Noise Project conducted a survey that asked questions about noise pollution and equity. We received hundreds of responses to the survey from participants across the world. We were unable to qualitatively code the majority of these survey questions, as most were multiple choice questions or asked for quantitative responses. However, few of the questions, asked participants to write in a response, which we could then qualitatively code.
Our coding team has been coding question nineteen (as stated below) for the past week. We added to our existing codebook with many new codes that applied specifically to this Noise survey data. Here’s this week’s coding moment of the week from our Noise Survey data!
Question: “Why do you think the communities mentioned in question #18 experience higher levels of noise?
Q18: Exposure to high levels of noise has been linked to learning difficulties and behavioral problems in children, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and reduced birth weight. Research shows that people living in low-income communities that have higher proportions of Native American, Asian, Black, and Hispanic residents experience higher levels of noise. In addition, more racially segregated communities experience higher levels of noise. Does this surprise you?)”
Answer: Because those communities have less protection or are more vulnerable. For example, I have been requesting a pedestrian crossing for over 15 years in my low income neighborhood and nothing, while in places like ***** beach, there are so many pedestrian crossings it is almost annoying to drive up and down some of the streets…..but ***** beach is a affluent community so it gets more than what we will ever get”INTERVIEWEE
How We Coded It
- Here, the survey respondent remarks that low-income communities of color have “less protection” than wealthier communities. The respondent then goes on to state that, although they have been advocating for a pedestrian crossing for 15 years, no crosswalk has been built. In the neighboring affluent community, however, many pedestrian crossings have been built.
- The fact that wealthy communities, according to this survey respondent, receive pedestrian crosswalks that benefit the community, whereas low-income communities do not, is an instance of classism (prejudice against people of a certain economic class). The code classism was added to our codebook to capture the instances, such as this one, in which participants noted that low-income communities are treated worse than high income ones.Additionally, because the low-income communities that the survey respondent refers to are minoritized communities, as stated in the question, this is an instance of institutional racism. Denying the requests of minority communities for pedestrian sidewalks is a way in which the government as an institution disadvantages citizens of color. It is important to note that classism and institutional racism intersect and compound upon one another, but for the sake of our coding, we kept these as two separate codes.
- In the last sentence, the respondent states: “***** beach is an affluent community so it gets more than what we will ever get.” From this, we also applied the codes inherent inequity and resources. The fact that citizens from certain communities receive resources such as pedestrian crossings upon request, whereas citizens from other communities do not, is fundamentally and inherently inequitable, and leads to citizens who do not receive resources to be at an inherent disadvantage compared to citizens who do receive and reap the benefits of these resources.
- The survey respondent also notes a contrast between the wealthy beach community and their own low-income community. From this, we applied the code segregation, as the respondent describes the way in which citizens are divided and segmented along racial and economic lines.
- For each answer we coded, we applied either the code control (no) or the code control (yes), based upon whether the respondent believed that communities had control over the level of noise that existed in their environment. For example, answers that said higher levels of noise could be attributed to cultural practices or louder voices among residents were coded as control (yes), as community members can indeed control these factors. Other answers that argued that increased noise in low-income communities was a result of systems of oppression or over-regulation, for example, were coded as control (no.) In this answer, the respondent states that there are higher levels of noise in low-income communities because these communities are “protected less” and that other communities “get more” than they do. Obviously, individual residents have no control over whether broader leadership chooses to address their concerns, and so this is a case of an external, uncontrollable factor leading to noise pollution in low-income areas. We applied the code control (no).
Question for thought:
Think about the codes control (no) and control (yes). What are examples of causes of noise pollution that citizens can control, and what are examples of causes of noise pollution that citizens cannot control? Are there causes that are debatable–that is, one can argue either that the reason for the noise can be controlled, or that it cannot be controlled?
Do you agree with the codes we applied? Do you disagree? Are you comfortable with the thought process that took place? Let us know!
Image by Awsloley from Pixabay.