Learning in the Struggle: Reframing Economic & Environmental Justice

By Jan Breidenbach and Jesus Herrera

The dominance of neoliberalism over the past 35 years has transformed not only how global cities develop but also has shaped new forms of activism that contest this very development, including both economic and environmental justice organizing. Many of these social movement groups have developed similar models of organizing (community mobilization, policy advocacy and—when necessary—litigation) that target the skewed distribution of urban development and land uses. As in all social movements, they also “frame” their work to attract support and blunt opposition, a process that is part of the educative function of organizing. Recently, as these economic/environmental justice organizations have grown and matured, many are combining their frames, seeing the relevance of both frames to their communities. This process of framing and reframing through active organizing is one of learning in the struggle.

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