Urban Dereliction as Environmental Injustice
AbstractAmerican cities are increasingly suffering from property abandonment and dereliction. In this paper, we identify urban dereliction as an important and underexamined phenomenon in American cities, and one that warrants attention under the conceptual umbrella of environmental justice. An environmental justice approach that emphasizes both distributional and procedural justice provides an important lens through which to examine abandonment and dereliction. We provide an empirical example of dereliction in Atlanta neighborhoods and report preliminary findings from a study of the distribution of urban neglect and the presence (or absence) of resident activism in both high- and low-dereliction areas. Our study indicates that some residents in high-dereliction areas, while acutely aware of dereliction and actively involved in neighborhood and community organizations, are unsuccessful in pressuring city government agencies to enforce code violations and to maintain the physical infrastructure. By examining the procedural abilities of residents to address urban dereliction, we call attention to the relations of social power that shape the uneven geographies of urban neglect.
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