Neoliberalism and Justice

 Neoliberalism and Environmental and Social Justice

Leading up to and following the financial crisis, the discourse on global environmentalism and social justice was increasingly characterized by critical appraisals within scholarly circles of what had become known as neoliberalism.  It has now become increasingly clear in common circles that the trend toward neoliberalism over the last several decades and its accompanying features including commodification and commercialization, privatization, and deregulation, have been negatively impacting not only social equality and job security, but also environmental justice, food security, urban space, biodiversity loss, deforestation, etc. on a global scale. 

The financial crisis represents a critical juncture through which to revisit the neoliberal agenda and imagine new ways forward. 

Research is urgently needed to ascertain the emerging global discourse on the environment and society.  Where are we headed to now?  The aim of this project is to develop and implement a wider mutually informative research initiative to identify and characterize challenges to and shifts in the neoliberal environmental agenda, especially in light of the financial crisis. 

The first steps of this larger research initiative are to assert an empirical base of both previous work and proposed pilot case studies and appraisals of global trends in environmental degradation and social welfare decline in light of a neoliberal framework.  With this base, it is anticipated that a larger forum involving both academics and activists is needed to build an integrated, grounded, full-blown research agenda that is mutually supportive and informative. 

It is our intention to develop and implement an interdisciplinary research agenda with other prominent scholars and activists  who have thus far recorded or acknowledged the impacts of neoliberalism on the environment and social welfare, and can boldly envision and take the next steps.  

The anticipated outcome of this research is to “put our ideas to work,” by mapping challenges to or transformations of the neoliberal agenda, and ultimately by participating in originating a viable discourse for prosperity.  Some guiding questions include:  In what ways are the dominance of market environmentalism discourse and related governance mechanisms (i.e., neoliberal environmentalism) being affirmed, challenged, or simply revamped?  What, if anything, is new about how we articulate environmental problems and their solutions, especially with respect to social justice?  To what extent, if any, is there a reawakening of Keynesian discourse including F.D.R “New Deal” principles? 

Naturally this could be studied in many ways at many levels, but the point here is to assert a series of activities that ultimately organize research that is mutually informing to enhance validity, value and impact, and that is timely (and bold even).  The process at this stage is to develop a Research Platform: Network, Agenda, and Support: Convene scholars and activists to mobilize a collaborative, mutually informative, high profile research and advocacy strategy.