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The Lost War and Battles of Environmental Justice: The Emergence of Environmental Justice in England – Political Potential in a Post-Political Context

STERN, DANIEL,ALEXIS,WOLFE (2016) The Lost War and Battles of Environmental Justice: The Emergence of Environmental Justice in England – Political Potential in a Post-Political Context. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Environmental Justice (EJ), the name of both a concept and a social movement that originated in the United States in the early 1980s, is purported to possess both democratic and political potential. However, in its various manifestations, this potential is frequently not realised. This study, engaging in recent critiques of the nature of politics itself and the argument that the current context has become post-political, examines EJ’s radical potential and its emergence and presence in England. To investigate, interviews with key EJ actors in UK civil society, the Non-Government Organisation of Friends of the Earth (FoE) in particular, and a case study of a mobilisation against a stereotypical instance of environmental injustice (EiJ) are conducted. In England, the concept is seen to emerge at an elite civil society-level around the turn of the millennium, most noticeably with FoE. EJ and its social justice counterpart are seen to struggle for eminence, and the most prominent emergence of EJ is within a sustainable development discourse coalition addressing a technocratic deficit, post-political in form. With little presence of EJ discourses and the explicit EJ frame at the grassroots level, a number of barriers relating to the nature of both England’s EiJs and the organisations promoting the discourse are discerned. A congruence of neoliberalism and a ‘Protest Business’ organisational form with post-politics, which is unconducive to particular forms of EJ, is revealed. Moreover, in this context where the political is sublimated, an inherent fragmentation is seen organisationally, discursively and causally, that inhibits radical EJ diagnoses and prognoses. The case study provides insight into the discourses present in a contemporary EiJ mobilisation against an incinerator in England, revealing largely implicit justice claims and a ‘properly political’ claim of being “dumped on”, and their subsequent negotiation, sublimation and disavowal by a post-political planning system.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Environmental Justice Post-Politics Politics Ranciere Friends of the Earth Civil Society NGO Politics Neoliberalism Environmental Movement Failure
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Dec 2016 11:35

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