Nobody's fault? Structural injustice, food, and climate change

Alkaa kello
Päättyy kello

Pinni B -rakennus ls 4141 (Kanslerinrinne 1)


Filosofian tutkijaseminaari

Tutkijatohtori Teija Kortetmäki (Tay, Johtamiskorkeakoulu) filosofian tutkijaseminaarissa


This paper studies food systems and examines a relatively new theoretical concept that appears promising for addressing the relationship between food and climate justice: structural injustice.

Structural injustice denotes situations where "social processes put large groups of persons under systematic threat of domination or deprivation of the means to develop and exercise their capacities, at the same time that these processes enable others to dominate or to have a wide range of opportunities for developing and exercising capacities available to them" (Young 2006, 51-52). Structural injustice cannot be traced back to the wrongs of particular culpable agents, for it is the 'accumulated result' of uncoordinated activities that largely take place within the limits of accepted norms.

The context for discussing structural food injustices in this paper is that of climate change. Food systems and climate change have a two-way relation: the global food system is one of the greatest carbon emitters, yet food system activities are also threatened by the impacts of climate change. The complex relation between these two needs to be studied from the viewpoint of justice. Otherwise there is a risk that promoting justice in one realm happens at the cost of injustices elsewhere.

Moreover, in the world of scarce resources and lack of time, it is essential to look for synergies in promoting justice in different domains.

The main objective of this paper is to examine how the notion of structural injustice fits in the context of food justice and whether it can be used for describing the relation between the food system activities and climate change. The paper has three sections. The first part introduces the notion of structural injustice, based on the works of Iris Marion Young, and describes what structural injustice means in the context of the global food system.

In the second part, I discuss how structural food injustice is linked with structural climate injustice to establish the claim that the two are closely connected. In the third part, I discuss the implications of my findings to the attribution of the responsibilities for food justice. In the last section, I also make the argument that promoting food justice is primarily a collective and political task rather than an issue of ethical consumerism.

Keywords: structural injustice, food-climate nexus, food justice, climate justice, responsibilities



Jani Hakkarainen
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