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Melvin Stephens

Age, the Life Course, and Environmental Justice

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Lowry, Deborah. 2009. "Age, the Life Course, and Environmental Justice." Environmental Justice, 2(3): 109-116.

A large body of research demonstrates that race, class, and gender are key factors influencing the conditions, resources, and risks that groups and individuals experience and perceive within both "green" and built environments. However, at least one dimension remains relatively absent from the literature: age. The main argument of this article is that environmental sociology and justice studies would benefit from further consideration of how age-relations, birth cohort identities, and life course conditions relate to variations in environmental health, environmental conditions, and perceptions thereof. The purpose of this article is to encourage such explorations by providing an introduction to major concepts and definitions from critical aging theory and by offering suggestions as to how these concepts could be explored within an environmental justice framework. I first introduce definitions, theoretical concepts, and methodological issues germane to studies of aging and note possible explanations for the relative invisibility of matters of aging and the life course in sociological studies of environments and environmental justice. The final portion of the article presents brief illustrative examples from fieldwork in rural China, followed by suggested areas for further exploration.

DOI:10.1089/env.2009.0002 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3034262. (Pub Med Central)

Country of focus: China.

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