Environmental Inequality Formation: Toward a Theory of Environmental Injustice

David N. Pellow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

345 Scopus citations


There are a number of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological issues in the literature on environmental justice and environmental inequalities in need of refinement. Using data from the recycling industry, the author proposes an environmental inequality formation (EIF) perspective to address these issues. The EIF perspective synthesizes three major points that are largely neglected in research on environmental inequalities: (a) the importance of process and history, (b) the role of multiple stakeholder relationships, and (c) a life-cycle approach to the study of hazards. The EIF model captures sociological dynamics in ways that suggest that environmental racism and inequalities originate and emerge in a much more complex process than previously considered. Theory building in this area of research will aid scholars in understanding the mechanisms that produce environmental inequalities as well as their socioenvironmental consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-601
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2000

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