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Beyond Distribution and Proximity: Exploring the Multiple Spatialities of Environmental Justice

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Over the last decade the scope of the socio-environmental concerns included within an environmental justice framing has broadened and theoretical understandings of what defines and constitutes environmental injustice have diversified. This paper argues that this substantive and theoretical pluralism has implications for geographical inquiry and analysis, meaning that multiple forms of spatiality are entering our understanding of what it is that substantiates claims of environmental injustice in different contexts. In this light the simple geographies and spatial forms evident in much “first-generation” environmental justice research are proving insufficient. Instead a richer, multidimensional understanding of the different ways in which environmental justice and space are co-constituted is needed. This argument is developed by analysing a diversity of examples of socio-environmental concerns within a framework of three different notions of justice—as distribution, recognition and procedure. Implications for the strategies of environmental justice activism for the globalisation of the environmental justice frame and for future geographical research are considered.

Keywords: environmental justice; pluralism; space

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK;, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2009


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