Legal enforcement of spatial and environmental injustice

Rural targeting and exploitation

Authored by: Loka Ashwood , Katherine MacTavish , Dalton Richardson

The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138104051
eBook ISBN: 9781315102375
Adobe ISBN:


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Social and economic restructuring has ushered in a set of legal practices that function to exacerbate already existing spatial and environmental injustices in rural places across the globe. Even, and especially, in rural America, such trends are acute. Farm policy focuses on productivism, while rural people outside of the agricultural frame receive little explicit attention. We identify spatial and environmental injustice in the rural context as enacted through two iterative, utilitarian processes: dispossessing those already dispossessed; and dispossessing those who still possess in the context of property rights. ‘Right to farm’ laws, along with the legal treatment of trailer parks, provide exemplary case studies of how rural people outside of the productivist agricultural frame are explicitly marginalised. While legal and zoning practices contribute to these spatial and environmental injustices in both cases, they can as well, we argue, be used to reduce such wrongs.

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