Green Technology and Ecologically Unequal Exchange: The Environmental and Social Consequences of Ecological Modernization in the World-System

Eric Bonds, Liam Downey


This paper contributes to understandings of ecologically unequal exchange within the world-systems perspective by offering a series of case studies of ecological modernization in the automobile industry. The case studies demonstrate that green technologies developed and instituted in core nations often require specific raw materials that are extracted from the periphery and semi-periphery. Extraction of such natural resources causes significant environmental degradation and often displaces entire communities from their land. Moreover, because states often use violence and repression to facilitate raw material extraction, the widespread commercialization of green technologies can result in serious human rights violations. These findings challenge ecological modernization theory, which rests on the assumption that the development and commercialization of more ecologically-efficient technologies is universally beneficial.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Eric Bonds, Liam Downey

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