Using a political ecology perspective, this research examines the social issues of cyanobacteria. In Québec (Canada), public health officials issue warnings concerning water-related activities and water consumption. An ethnographic study was undertaken with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the attitudes of citizens toward cyanobacteria and public health measures. It enabled us to identify both the meanings attached to this phenomenon and the other driving forces behind the attitudes and, in particular, toward compliance with measures prescribed by the authorities. Focus groups and semidirected individual interviews involving several groups of social actors were conducted in 2009 and 2010 on three communities. This study points to the importance of considering natural phenomena such as the proliferation of cyanobacteria as sociocultural constructs, because this approach can be applied to address the impacts of such phenomena from a different perspective and therefore improve management practices to reduce these impacts.
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