Social inequalities and environmental conflict

David N. Pellow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This paper is organized around two points. The first concerns the literature on environmental justice (EJ) studies and its lack of incorporation of social scientific theories and concepts concerning racism. This is surprising, given EJ studies 'strong interest in challenging a form of racism - environmental racism. This, in turn, allows for a critique of theories of racism for their lack of attention to the ways in which society-environment relations structure racist practices and discourses, and a critique of scholars who have understated the continuing impact of racism on communities of color. The second point concerns the degree to which modernization has led to an improvement in the environmental impacts associated with market economies and their production systems. Drawing on ecological modernization, risk society, and the treadmill of production theories, I argue that, as with popular and scholarly views on racism, many scholars have overstated the level of progress society has made on this front. I also argue That this is largely because - via practices such as environmental racism and globalization - many of the worst dimensions of the market economy's externalities are out of sight and out of mind (due largely to spatial and residential segregation and international hazardous waste exports), making it possible to either ignore or dismiss claims to the contrary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-29
Number of pages15
JournalHorizontes Antropologicos
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Ecological modernization
  • Enviromental justice
  • Environmental racism
  • Risk society


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