Social Justice Research

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 423–439 | Cite as

The Environmental Justice Movement: Equitable Allocation of the Costs and Benefits of Environmental Management Outcomes

  • David N. Pellow
  • Adam Weinberg
  • Allan Schnaiberg


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.

environmental racism environmental inequality environmental justice movement social equity 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David N. Pellow
    • 1
  • Adam Weinberg
    • 2
  • Allan Schnaiberg
    • 3
  1. 1.Departments of Ethnic Studies and SociologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulder
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyColgate UniversityHamilton
  3. 3.Department of SociologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanston

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