We present a review of theoretical and methodological advances in the social scientific literature on environmental inequality/racism and argue for new directions in research efforts that pay more attention to (1) the historical forces driving environmental justice conflicts; (2) the complex role of stakeholders in these struggles; (3) the role of social inequality, particularly the trade-offs between environmental protection and social equity; and (4) the impact of social movement activity on the state of environmental protection. Drawing on a case study of an environmental justice conflict in the United States, we find that environmental inequality impacts many actors with often contradictory and cross-cutting allegiances. These struggles therefore become a moving drama - a process - rather than a cross-sectional outcome. We conclude with an analysis of environmental inequality on a global scale and argue that the role of transnational capital remains largely untheorized in the literature. We suggest new models for explaining environmental inequality's causes and consequences.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Generous support for this research was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research Program at the University of California-Berkeley and by the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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- Environmental inequality
- Environmental justice movement
- Environmental racism
- Social equity