The challenges of studying capitalism and its discontents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Few topics are as important or contested as the relationships among capitalism, human wellbeing and ecological integrity. In her article 'Can capitalism deliver environmental justice?' (Bell 2015 Environ. Res. Lett. 10 125017), Bell uses a seven-country comparison to explore how capitalism can either constrain or enable efforts to achieve environmental justice. This is an important contribution to these long-standing and recently re-ignited debates but also reminds us of the methodological challenges inevitably facing scholars attempting to engage with the big questions of capitalism and justice. Specifically the ambiguous and ideologically contested characteristics of these subjects leave scholars facing a series of hard decisions about how to operationalize studies and how to do so in ways that will be seen as credible and relevant even to those across ideological aisles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number011001
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 18 2016


  • capitalism
  • environmental justice
  • methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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