From Workshop to Waste Magnet

From Workshop to Waste Magnet: Environmental Inequality in the Philadelphia Region

Copyright Date: 2016
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 270
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  • Book Info
    From Workshop to Waste Magnet
    Book Description:

    Like many industrialized regions, the Philadelphia metro area contains pockets of environmental degradation: neighborhoods littered with abandoned waste sites, polluting factories, and smoke-belching incinerators. However, other neighborhoods within and around the city are relatively pristine. This eye-opening book reveals that such environmental inequalities did not occur by chance, but were instead the result of specific policy decisions that served to exacerbate endemic classism and racism.

    From Workshop to Waste Magnetpresents Philadelphia's environmental history as a bracing case study in mismanagement and injustice. Sociologist Diane Sicotte digs deep into the city's past as a titan of American manufacturing to trace how only a few communities came to host nearly all of the area's polluting and waste disposal land uses. By examining the complex interactions among economic decline, federal regulations, local politics, and shifting ethnic demographics, she not only dissects what went wrong in Philadelphia but also identifies lessons for environmental justice activism today.

    Sicotte's research tallies both the environmental and social costs of industrial pollution, exposing the devastation that occurs when mass quantities of society's wastes mix with toxic levels of systemic racism and economic inequality.From Workshop to Waste Magnetis a compelling read for anyone concerned with the health of America's cities and the people who live in them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-7422-6
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Sociology, Population Studies, Chemistry

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Philadelphia is known for its cheesesteaks, pretzels, and the statue of Rocky near the steps of the Art Museum. But among those who care about environmental justice, Philadelphia and the towns surrounding it are also known for their stark and shocking environmental inequalities. Some area residents live in clean, leafy neighborhoods far from industrial pollution, while others are engaged in a daily neighborhood struggle with polluted air, multiple waste disposal facilities, relentless truck traffic, and the legacy of toxic manufacturers long gone.

    Camden City, New Jersey, and Chester City, Pennsylvania, are two such places in the Philadelphia area where important...

  8. 1 Measuring Environmental Inequalities in the Philadelphia Area in 2010
    (pp. 15-30)

    In the introduction, I’ve presented Chester City and Port Richmond, two Philadelphia area communities facing severe environmental inequality, in an effort to give the reader a bit of the flavor of what it is like to live there amid the environmental justice struggles each community faces. In this chapter, I’ll discuss my research and how I determined which communities in the Philadelphia area faced extreme environmental inequality, compared with others. I will also provide some numbers and maps to illustrate my findings.

    The focus in this chapter and the historical ones that follow is on the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area (also...

  9. 2 Theorizing Urban Environmental Inequality
    (pp. 31-55)

    Environmental justice is a new, interdisciplinary area of research. Since the 1980s, researchers trained in economics, geography, history, law, political science, public health, sociology, urban planning, and other disciplines have examined the causes for and consequences of environmental injustice and inequality. In sociology alone, environmental justice work spans at least three subfields: environmental sociology, sociology of science and technology, and urban sociology. All of this work has yielded a large body of knowledge on environmental injustice and inequality in the United States and elsewhere.

    We already know that there is too much diversity in environmental injustice to allow for a...

  10. 3 The Rise of Industrial Philadelphia
    (pp. 56-83)

    Although the landscapes of cities such as Philadelphia are the legacies of the past, representing thousands of decisions about the location of buildings, bridges, and roads, they are not as frozen in place as they appear in a map or photograph. Instead, they are constantly changing—being modified in response to the needs of corporate business owners and investors, wealthy residents, growth coalitions, political entrepreneurs, and urban grassroots activist groups.1

    In the Philadelphia area, the long history of the making and remaking of industrial landscapes has created three distinct spatial configurations of industry. None of these has entirely disappeared; it...

  11. 4 Environmental Inequality from 1950 to 1969
    (pp. 84-108)

    The year 1950 marked the peak of Philadelphia’s industrial boom. For decades, Philadelphia had been an industrial powerhouse, and in 1950 it led the nation in the production of textiles, ships, locomotives, and many other commodities.1 Although many environmental justice studies have examined who lived near polluting factories and waste disposal facilities in recent decades, few have examined where these were located and who lived near them before 1970.2 This history of environmental inequality in the Philadelphia area would not be complete without an inquiry into who lived near hazardous or noxious facilities before 1970.

    Given the racial discrimination against...

  12. 5 The Making of Waste Magnets: Environmental Burdening after 1970
    (pp. 109-138)

    After 1970, two enormous changes transformed the environmental hazardscape of the Philadelphia area: the passage of key U.S. environmental laws from 1969 to 1987; and, at the same time, the disappearance of the manufacturing industries that had been the economic base of the Philadelphia area for over a century. These converging developments resulted in both the improvement of environmental conditions overall, and the accumulation of environmental burdens in Philadelphia’s struggling industrial communities.

    The loss of manufacturing jobs impoverished some predominantly white industrial communities, leading to population loss and their transformation into predominantly minority communities. At that point, these negatively racialized...

  13. 6 Intersectionality and Environmental Inequality in the Philadelphia Region
    (pp. 139-156)

    In chapter 5, I pointed out that most of 2010’s high-minority, extensively burdened communities were once predominantly white communities, and that all of them were once places where manufacturing was the major economic activity. This shows that the racial/ethnic composition and social class status of the Philadelphia area’s manufacturing communities changed after deindustrialization began to impoverish them in the 1970s. The poor, predominantly minority communities in crisis that emerged became negatively racialized. This historical sequence, which shaped the environmental inequities we see as of 2010, shows how social advantages and disadvantages affected employment and environmental burdening in differing ways throughout...

  14. 7 Toward a “Rust Belt” Theory of U.S. Environmental Inequality
    (pp. 157-174)

    In chapter 2, I discussed research issues, incompatible research aims, and some other reasons why we haven’t gotten further along in our understanding of the process of urban environmental inequality formation in the United States.1 One thing holding researchers back from fully understanding environmental inequalities is that we are using research methods that allow inequalities to be documented, but that do not allow us to trace the process by which they came about.

    To theorize the root causes of environmental inequality and the processes by which environmental inequalities are formed, we need more multi-method studies that combine spatial research with...

  15. Appendix: Nature of This Study
    (pp. 175-202)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 203-242)
  17. Index
    (pp. 243-252)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 253-256)