Performative justice: New directions in environmental and social justice
New explorations of justice are arising in the wake of post-structuralist and feminist critiques of abstract, generalized notions of justice in Western liberal democracies. These interventions are opening new avenues of study on discursive practices and performances that contest social and environmental injustices in everyday life. Feminist scholars argue for greater attention to the local and the particular, the embodied, gendered, emotion-based, ethnic subject of justice and injustice. Yet, limited research has been conducted on performative and performance-based relationships to justice, despite its potential to inform matters related the use and conservation of public goods and common spaces in everyday life. This critical review examines the notion of performativity and its application to justice, aiming to clarify and advance understanding and theorizing of a potentially valuable direction in environmental and social justice at the local level. We draw on Hobson’s articulation of performative justice, as it offers some useful insights into how injustices related to the appropriation of public green spaces agendas are being identified and new meanings are being constituted through local-level citizen practices. We argue, however, that such attempts appear to be identifying injustices and demonstrating the ‘what is’ of environmental and social justice, but not ‘what ought to be’. Directions for future research are offered, which include clarifying the application of performative theories to the study and practice of justice at the local level.
Access to Justice