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Ecological thought and concern for social inequalities: indifference, opposition or convergence?


  • Edwin Zaccaï

    (Université Libre de Bruxelles, IGEAT)


This paper is an attempt to assess key relations between ecological thought and concern for social inequalities. Building on the fact that these relations may be controversial, the analysis will proceed as a fictional trial, introducing two opposite thesis, one after the other. In the first section, arguments that tend to see ecological thought as indifferent or detrimental to social equity are presented. The second part, after the prosecution, will conduct the case for the defence: arguments that sustain the idea that ecological objectives reinforce the search for a social equity will be outlined. In both parts, authors belonging to five different clusters of discourse are considered: deep ecology, environmentalism and sustainable development, ecological modernisation, risk and technology management, and finally radical criticism of development (including political ecology). While the situation differs within these different groups of discourses, it appears that the aims of environmental protection and social equity on the whole do not necessarily converge nor diverge, one of the reasons being their disconnected histories. We conclude with a plea and a few propositions towards increased convergence between ecology and social equity.

Suggested Citation

  • Edwin Zaccaï, 2008. "Ecological thought and concern for social inequalities: indifference, opposition or convergence?," Environmental Economy and Policy Research Working Papers 32.2008, University of Cambridge, Department of Land Economics, revised 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:lnd:wpaper:200832

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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Schools of Economic Thought, Epistemology of Economics > Heterodox Approaches > Ecological Economics > Social Ecology and Social Metabolism

    More about this item


    Equity; Justice; Distribution; Social inequalities; Ecology; Green Thought;
    All these keywords.

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