Risk and Justice: Rethinking the Concept of Compensation

TitleRisk and Justice: Rethinking the Concept of Compensation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsField, P, Raiffa, H, Susskind, L
JournalThe Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

In recent years, environmental justice advocates have made a convincing claim that risky facilities have been disproportionately clustered in poor communities and communities of color. NIMBYism (not in my backyard) has spread from predominantly white, affluent suburbs to poorer communities of color. In this article, we propose a means of addressing environmental inequities and breaking the siting impasse. We think that poor communities of color might use the proposed siting of risky facilities as a basis for negotiating substantial improvements in the well-being of their communities. We propose to embed siting negotiations in the preparation of broader development packages, jointly created with citizens of poor neighborhoods and communities of color, so that health risks are reduced, the environment is improved, and all residents are better off. As far as justice is concerned, the perceived fairness of the process by which risks are communicated and selected, and risk management strategies are devised, is as important as the actual allocation of risk.