© 2019

Ecologically Unequal Exchange

Environmental Injustice in Comparative and Historical Perspective

  • R. Scott Frey
  • Paul K. Gellert
  • Harry F. Dahms

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. R. Scott Frey, Paul K. Gellert, Harry F. Dahms
    Pages 1-10
  3. Theoretical Foundations of Ecologically Unequal Exchange

  4. Cases of Ecologically Unequal Exchange in Comparative and Historical Context

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 141-141
    2. Laura McKinney
      Pages 143-165
    3. Brett Clark, Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, Daniel Auerbach
      Pages 195-219
  5. Thoughts on What Is Being Done? What Is to Be Done? And Who Should Do It?

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 243-243
    2. Harry F. Dahms, R. Scott Frey
      Pages 307-316
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 317-331

About this book


At a time of societal urgency surrounding ecological crises from depleted fisheries to mineral extraction and potential pathways towards environmental and ecological justice, this book re-examines ecologically unequal exchange (EUE) from a historical and comparative perspective. The theory of ecologically unequal exchange posits that core or northern consumption and capital accumulation is based on peripheral or southern environmental degradation and extraction. In other words, structures of social and environmental inequality between the Global North and Global South are founded in the extraction of materials from, as well as displacement of waste to, the South. This volume represents a set of tightly interlinked papers attempting to assess ecologically unequal exchange and to move it forward. Chapters are organised into three main sections: theoretical foundations and critical reflections on ecologically unequal exchange; empirical research on mining, deforestation, fisheries, and the like; and strategies for responding to the adverse consequences associated with unequal ecological exchange. Scholars as well as advanced undergraduate and graduate students will benefit from the spirited re-evaluation and extension of ecologically unequal exchange theory, research, and praxis.


Ecological inequality Ecology environmental sociology ecological exchange globalization social justice environmental justice natural resources Ecologically Unequal Exchange socioecology raw materialism ecological imperialism capitalism damages ecological sustainability international division of labor Global Climate Justice Activism

Editors and affiliations

  • R. Scott Frey
    • 1
  • Paul K. Gellert
    • 2
  • Harry F. Dahms
    • 3
  1. 1.University of TennesseeKnoxville, TNUSA
  2. 2.University of TennesseeKnoxville, TNUSA
  3. 3.University of TennesseeKnoxville, TNUSA

About the editors

Harry F. Dahms is Professor of Sociology, co-director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice, and co-chair of the Committee on Social Theory at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, USA. He is the editor of ‘Current Perspectives in Social Theory’ and director of the International Social Theory Consortium. 

R. Scott Frey is Professor of Sociology and co-director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, USA, and Senior Associate Researcher at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the National Research University, Russian Federation. 

Paul K. Gellert is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville USA and Affiliated Fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), the Netherlands. 

Bibliographic information


“Ecologically Unequal Exchange stands for what is now widely recognized as a key area of investigation in environmental sociology. In this varied collection, R. Scott Frey, Paul K. Gellert, and Harry F. Dahms bring together a number of interesting essays on the topic, adding to this burgeoning literature, and in a way that will undoubtedly influence the further development of the field.” (John Bellamy Foster, Professor of Sociology, University of Oregon; author (with Paul Burkett) of Marx and the Earth)

“State-of-the-art theory and analysis of global inequality and power in the web of life. Ecologically Unequal Exchange offers a series of creative, insightful, and empirically-grounded accounts of how capitalism forges destructive and unequal developments, with gruesome impacts on humans and the rest of nature.” (Jason W. Moore, Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University; author of Capitalism in the Web of Life)