Friday, January 19, 2007

Featured Abstract of the Day

In response to the call for papers, the conference received 110 abstracts. Between now and March 29th we will feature an abstract of a paper that will be presented at the conference.

Public Hazard, Personal Peril: The Impact of Non-Governmental Organizations in Environmental Justice Claims

Submitted by: Andrea Y. Simpson, Associate Professor, University of Richmond, Department of Political Science, Richmond, VA 23173,

ABSTRACT: This paper is part of a larger project designed to understand the dynamics of contemporary social movements through an examination of the environmental justice movement. Led primarily by working-class women of color in urban environments, this movement seeks policy redress for unjust distribution of toxic waste sites and industries with toxic emissions. Civic engagement and contemporary political activism has a new face—activists must compete for media exposure and negotiate political and economic interests. This is especially difficult for women who occupy the space where minority, working-class, and gender status meet.
The urban context, along with the characteristics of the grassroots leadership, calls for a reconsideration of traditional social movement theory. The rise in prominence and power of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the anti-globalization, environmentalism, and environmental justice movements adds a new wrinkle to the process by which movements are built and sustained. Non-governmental organizations may serve as mediators between activists and their targets, and they may lend credibility to grassroots leaders. This research explores how grassroots activism, the junction of race, class, and gender, the politics of place, economic incentives, and the involvement of NGOs affect the relative success of such movements.

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