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Social inequality and environmental injustice. The effects of global consumption on the Global South



This chapter focuses on analyzing the effects of Global Consumption on the territories of the Global South and how this process, the product of a global hegemonic crisis, generates inequalities and environmental injustices in the territories affected by these consumption and production patterns. For this purpose, empirical examples from the Global South are analyzed, paying attention to the socio-ecological tensions produced by this phenomenon, linking the concept of neo-extractivism as an analytical category. Through this analysis, we also intend to show socio-historical structures of global inequalities and the effects they generate in historically displaced territories.
Social inequality and environmental injustice. The eects of global
consumption on the Global South
Desigualdad social e injusticia ambiental. Los efectos del consumo global en el Sur Global
Javier Lastra-Bravo
ISSN 2697-3677
Vol. 4 No. 11 mayo-agosto 2023, e230188
Quito, Ecuador
Enviado: Mayo 17, 2023
Aceptado: agosto 08, 2023
Publicado: Agosto 22, 2023
Publicación Continua
Javier Lastra-Bravo
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universität Hannover – Alemania.
is article focuses on analyzing the eects of Global Consumption on the territories of the Global South
and how this process, the product of a global hegemonic crisis, generates inequalities and environmen-
tal injustices in the territories aected by these consumption and production patterns. For this purpose,
empirical examples from the Global South are analyzed, paying attention to the socio-ecological tensions
produced by this phenomenon, linking the concept of neo-extractivism as an analytical category. rough
this analysis, we also intend to show socio-historical structures of global inequalities and the eects they
generate in historically displaced territories. e article concludes by pointing out that inequality is a glo-
bal problem, not only because of its geographical scope, but also because of its interrelationships between
the North and the South, which are strengthened and modied by global production networks and power
asymmetries. Finally, it was pointed out that the current economic model, the production processes and the
forms of consumption have multiplied the inequalities from the North to the South, revealing processes of
deepening the structural dependence of the “peripheries” of the global production networks and the divi-
sion labor international. In this way, the Global North thus controls production processes in other regions
of the world, reinforcing the dynamics of appropriation of income, work, resources, and capital.
Keywords: Global Consumption; Social Inequality; Environmental Injustice; Neoextractivism; Global
Vol. 4 No. 11, 2023. e230188 | Sección General | Peer Reviewed
PACHARevista de Estudios Contemporáneos del Sur Global
Journal of Contemporary Studies of the Global South
Revista de Estudos Contemporâneos do Sul Global
Este artículo se centra en analizar los efectos del Consumo Global en los territorios del Sur Global y cómo
este proceso, producto de una crisis hegemónica global, genera desigualdades e injusticias ambientales en los
territorios afectados por estos patrones de consumo y producción. Para ello, se analizan ejemplos empíricos
del Sur Global, prestando atención a las tensiones socio ecológicas que produce este fenómeno, vinculando el
concepto de neoextractivismo como categoría analítica. A través de este análisis, también pretendemos mostrar
las estructuras socio históricas de las desigualdades globales y los efectos que generan en los territorios históri-
camente desplazados. El artículo concluye señalando que la desigualdad es un problema global, no solo por su
alcance geográco, sino también por sus interrelaciones entre el Norte y el Sur, que se fortalecen y modican
a partir de redes globales de producción y asimetrías de poder. Finalmente se señalará que el actual modelo
económico, los procesos de producción y las formas de consumo han multiplicado las desigualdades del Norte
hacia el Sur, generando procesos de profundización de la dependencia estructural de las “periferias” de las redes
globales de producción y la división internacional del trabajo. De esta manera, el Norte Global controla así los
procesos productivos en otras regiones del mundo, reforzando las dinámicas de apropiación de ingresos, tra-
bajo, recursos y capital.
Palabras claves: Consumo Global; Desigualdad Social; Injusticia Ambiental; Neoextractivismo; Sur Global.
1. Introduction
In recent years, as a result of the multiple crises aecting our society (consisting of social, en-
vironmental, economic, health and military crises) (Brand, 2010), the gap between dierent sec-
tors of society has increased signicantly, especially the economic gap. us, the constant growth
of inequality has generated a process that has resulted in increased social tensions and the retar-
dation of growth and economic progress in dierent countries. e statistics are overwhelming:
more than two-thirds of the world’s populations live in countries where inequality has become
increasingly deep in recent years. us, regions in the Global South have been sadly aected by the
eects of inequality, with Latin America as one of the regions that have unfortunately positioned
itself as one with the highest rates of inequality.
ese processes of inequality are also accompanied by various other phenomena impacting
the social and interpersonal levels. According to numbers from the UN Department of Economic
and Social Aairs 2022, there is a correlation in that unequal societies are much less eective in
generating programs to reduce poverty. On the other hand, these countries also have much slower
growth rates than others. ey are much more susceptible to the emergence of mass protests and
demonstrations linked to economic problems, inequalities, and job insecurities. An example of
this is what has been experienced since 2018 in Latin America, in countries such as Ecuador, Chile,
Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia, where various social demonstrations developed–the so-called “social
outbursts” due to their spontaneity and magnitude–related to the social demand for improving
their quality of life, leveling inequality indexes and increasing opportunities for social mobility.
Social inequalities have become a very present theme in the daily lives of the subjects of the
Global South, territories in which processes have historically generated methods that have al-
Social inequality and environmental injustice. The eects of global consumption on the Global
Javier Lastra-Bravo
lowed the permanence of structures and relations of inequality. However, this problem is not only
a problem of peripheral countries or the Global South but rather a global problem that places us
all in the game of inequality. In this way, the 17 United Nations Development Goals, adopted by
all countries in 2015, are closely related to solving the inequality problem. Focusing on the dif-
ferent countries and governments to generate adequate policies to address this problem globally,
the question here is the following: Will the generation of national and regional policies be enough
to end inequality, or is it necessary a change of direction, a change in consumption patterns and
relations between the Global North and South?
In this context, the following chapter aims to present an analytical reection on the struc-
tures of social inequality, focusing on analyzing the eects that Global Consumption generates in
the Global South and how this process generates inequalities and environmental injustices in the
territories aected by global consumption and production patterns. For this purpose, attention is
paid to the socio-ecological tensions produced by this phenomenon, linking it, especially to neo-
extractivist dynamics. To this end, the chapter rst denes the inequality category in the context
of the Global South, presenting descriptive statistics on this phenomenon.
Subsequently, in section two, the dynamics linked to Global Interdependencies, Global Con-
sumption, and Global Production are presented, illustrating the dierences in economic inequali-
ties at the global level and their correlation with historical processes of plundering, extractivism,
productive dependence, and extractivism. For this purpose, authors such as Wallerstein are ana-
lyzed to contextualize this correlation. In this sense, the following question is posed: What social
relations and structures give rise to sustained income inequality between rich and poor people?
Following this line, chapter four presents the concept of neo-extractivism as an analytical category
that allows us to analyze how global consumption and production patterns are drivers of social
inequality. To conclude the chapter, environmental injustice is presented as a sub-concept of in-
equality closely linked to resource extraction, sacrice zones, and neo-extractivism. In this sense,
ecological injustice is oered as another phenomenon resulting from global consumption and
production dynamics, which aects historically excluded territories as another form of inequality.
e methodology used in this article is based on qualitative content analysis and the compara-
tive method of sociology to achieve a macro analysis of social inequality and environmental injus-
tice. In this way, the comparative form of international phenomena (Hantrais, 2009; 2014) allows
recognizing of the common elements, the dierences, and those elements of inection that arise
from the Global processes of Consumption and distribution of power, to generate a broader un-
derstanding of the phenomenon of social inequality (Bergene, 2007; Berg-Schlosser et al., 2009).
is macro-analysis will be carried out specically to study the global dynamics of production and
Consumption, based on the analysis of economic reports, analysis of economic relations between
dierent global regions, and, nally, analysis of global consumption patterns.
2. Social inequality in the Global South
Vol. 4 No. 11, 2023. e230188 | Sección General | Peer Reviewed
PACHARevista de Estudios Contemporáneos del Sur Global
Journal of Contemporary Studies of the Global South
Revista de Estudos Contemporâneos do Sul Global
Social inequality can be dened as the distance between the position of dierent individu-
als or groups concerning access to socially relevant goods and services and access to and use
of political power resources (Tilly, 1998; Dubet, 2001; Kreckel, 2004; Braig et al., 2015, p. 212).
e phenomenon of social inequality must be understood at a global level, analyzing not only
the phenomena from a local aspect but also considering its interweaving and relationships with
macro-global phenomena and processes. In this sense, global inequalities are inuenced or de-
ned according to transregional dependency relationships, which are strengthened and modi-
ed based on global production networks and power asymmetries. In this context, elements such
as the dierent axes of stratication, categories of intersectionality, international networks, and
the multidimensionality of social, economic, cultural, and socio-ecological inequalities come into
play (Braig et al., 2015, p. 212).
It is, therefore, necessary to take into account transregional structures as levels of analysis,
moving away from the traditional analytical perspective of nation-states and adding a global per-
spective to the problem of inequality, including in the study other elements such as globalization,
the international division of labor and global consumption. is way, social disparities, and their
multidimensional and transregional dependency processes are placed globally.
On the other hand, since the world economic crisis of 2008, the dynamics of inequality have
deepened extremely, increasing the nancial gap even with people who had a permanent sala-
ried job (Benanav, 2021). However, this crisis has generated an intense concentration and capi-
tal growth in the so-called “Economy 4.0” and high-tech companies, with consortiums such as
Google, Apple, Meta, and Amazon. is phenomenon has increased social inequality, making the
growing economic-social gap between rich and poor one of the most important and urgent social
problems to be solved.
is process of deepening social inequality is also due to the generation and growth of dy-
namics of global labor precariousness, for example, with new forms of exibilization of forms
of contracting, work times, work processes, relocation of the production of goods and services,
among others (Tricontinental, 2022, p. 9). On the other hand, with the economic crisis result-
ing from the coronavirus pandemic, exclusion and global inequalities also increased. e poor
became poorer, the richest 1% doubled their income, many workers lost their jobs, and informal
workers could not work due to mobility restrictions (Lastra-Bravo, 2021). In this regard, accord-
ing to the OXFAM 2022 report (OXFAM, 2022), during the pandemic period, a new billionaire
appeared every 26 hours, while on the other hand, the income of 99% of the world’s population
It is worth mentioning that Latin America and the Caribbean is the region with the most sig-
nicant social inequality since 40% of its population is considered poor and almost 20% extremely
poor, showing an extremely polarized income distribution (Braig et al., 2015, p. 211). is pro-
found process of social inequality should be analyzed, considering historically framed phenomena
such as neoliberalism, which has generated a constant process of social exclusion and individual-
ization of subjects, in addition to producing a plural set of social and economic frustrations linked
Social inequality and environmental injustice. The eects of global consumption on the Global
Javier Lastra-Bravo
to the expectations and pressures of social mobility, consumption, and competition. In Harvey’s
words, neoliberalism has been constituted as a project of the dominant classes on a global scale to
recompose their power and income (Harvey, 2004; 2007). An example of this is the case of Chile,
where since 1973–with the establishment of the dictatorship and the neoliberal market model–the
economic gaps between the dierent sectors of society have been widening, making Chile the sec-
ond most unequal country in the OECD, where the income of the richest 20% of the population
is ten times greater than that of the poorest quintile (OCDE, 2018; Mieres, 2020). Despite this,
Chile has positioned itself as one of the countries of the Global South with a good quality of life
index and a solid political and social stability scenario, preserving macroeconomic balances de-
spite global shocks (Sunkel & Infante, 2009; Mieres, 2020, p. 92). is shows us the naturalization
processes of the production and reproduction of inequality in societies, being even more palpable
in the Global South, where inequality gaps are much more evident.
Analyzing the macro levels of social inequality, we can see an abysmal dierence between the
standard of living of the rich and the poor in the world scenario. According to the World Inequal-
ity Report 2022, 70% of the total wealth generated in the world is in the hands of the wealthiest
10% of the population, while on the other hand, the poorest 50% of the population receives only
2% of the total wealth (Chancel et al., 2022). Likewise, by 2022, 10 billionaires worldwide will pos-
sess the wealth of about 3.1 billion people (OXFAM, 2022).
In this sense, we must point out that social inequality manifests in a dierentiated way in the
dierent regions of the world due to historical processes, such as colonialism, extractivism, the
global division of labor, and nally, the conguration of the world system. ese processes have
caused the Global South to be more latently aected by exclusion, inequality, and social vulner-
3. Global interdependencies, global consumption and global production
Current geopolitics is thus a fundamental element when speaking of inequality, as it repro-
duces and re-generates historical conditions of exclusion and dependencies imposed by the North
on the Global South. An example of this was the European Union policy for food exports to South
Africa -promoted at the end of the last decade- in which food products such as chicken received
an export subsidy, which generated sales prices in South Africa that were 30% below national
production, thus disarticulating the national poultry industry, since it was not possible for them
to compete with the prices of imported products. is is an example of how the Global North’s
policies continue to aect the internal processes of the countries of the Global South, oen acquir-
ing neocolonial features.
Illustration 1. Map of Social Inequality on a Global Scale
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Journal of Contemporary Studies of the Global South
Revista de Estudos Contemporâneos do Sul Global
Source: Chancel et al., 2022, p. 12.
As we have seen in the previous graph (Illustration 1), it is possible to see how the countries
of the Global South have much higher national income inequality indexes than those of the Global
North. Moreover, inequality in each country of the Global South acquires unique characteristics
depending on its social, political, historical, and cultural complexity, thus reaching dierent levels
and nuances. However, studies on inequality are commonly based on analyzing levels from a na-
tional perspective, leaving aside essential categories such as the macroeconomic perspective, the
unequal nature of economic distribution, and global power. In this sense, when considering from
a macro perspective the per capita income of the regions of the Global South, the dierence with
the Global North becomes abysmal and continues to grow.
However, as already postulated by Wallerstein, (Wallerstein, 1979; 1988; 2007), there is an
organic-historical link between the North and the Global South, a relationship based on pro-
cesses of appropriation of resources, labor, and income. is polarized relationship has increased
in recent decades, becoming a fundamental dimension of contemporary global production and
consumption dynamics (Arrighi et al., 2003). e countries of the Global South are positioned
as peripheral actors and dependent on the worldwide economy, acquiring a role as suppliers of
natural resources or cheap labor, thus sustaining global production in the countries of the Global
South. In this sense, areas such as North Africa and the Middle East generate 185% of the manu-
factured output that the Global North consumes, which is not reected in their income since they
only reach 15% of the per capita income of rich countries (Tricontinental, 2022, p. 13). In other
words, even if the level of growth of manufacturing industries in the Global South is maintained,
they will not allow industrialization in the peripheral countries to reach the living standards of the
central countries or the Global North. For example, India and Bangladesh, two crucial players in
global manufacturing, show extreme levels of inequality, leveling out at only 2.8% and 3.4% of the
Social inequality and environmental injustice. The eects of global consumption on the Global
Javier Lastra-Bravo
per capita income of the countries of the North.
is paradox between production and consumption becomes more evident when analyzing
and identifying the location of the industries that produce the products we consume since most
of the world’s factories are in the Global peripheries in countries with precarious working con-
ditions. us, manufacturing, and natural resource extraction have historically remained in the
Global Periphery, with the Global South being where most of the manufactures consumed by the
Global North are produced. However, the retribution of production needs to be more equitable
and fairer since only 20% of per capita income is received (Chancel et al., 2022). is demonstrates
a distributive injustice between the center and the periphery, between the North and the South.
is injustice has its roots in historical processes and dynamics of inequality.
We can see that what enables the reproduction of the forms of the daily life of the Global
North is the production, extraction, and exploitation of the Global South. is phenomenon -
nally translates into processes in which the sovereignty of States is aected, specically in terms
of their economic dependence on markets and global production networks. In this sense, we can
agree with Milanovic’s (2013, p. 23) postulation that inequality in the 21st century can be ex-
plained more by geographic location than by other categories, such as class.
On the other hand, if we analyze the World Bank data, we can realize that the income per
wage in the countries between 1980-2018, the countries of the Global South is below the world
average, while 100% of the countries of the Global North are above the average world income.
Another phenomenon that feeds these structural factors of inequality is that the current capitalist
system, interdependent, globalized, and with high levels of productive delocalization, has gen-
erated the historical patterns of dependency to become much more potent. is is because the
Global North controls the global processes of accumulation, reinforcing the power of the domi-
nant classes on a global scale, thus increasing the gaps in global inequality (Arrighi, 2007).
On the other hand, the economic uctuations of recent years have made global accumulation
spaces much more evident, reinforcing the power of the dominant classes on a worldwide scale
(Stiglitz, 2015; Zizek, 2020) and consequently strengthening the position of the Global North.
Specically, these processes have been based on four fundamental pillars:
1. Transnationalization of capital and productive delocalization
2. Financialization
3. Hyperconcentration of capital
4. Increase in communications, information technology, and transportation
In this sense, the current system of capitalism, consumption habits, and the global way of
life has generated inequality gaps that are becoming increasingly abysmal, with considerable dif-
ferences in the quality of life of people, depending mainly on their geographical location position,
that is to say. is is a reection of the deepening of historical dependency structures, which have
Vol. 4 No. 11, 2023. e230188 | Sección General | Peer Reviewed
PACHARevista de Estudios Contemporáneos del Sur Global
Journal of Contemporary Studies of the Global South
Revista de Estudos Contemporâneos do Sul Global
generated that the countries of the Global South -most of them rich in natural resources- cannot
enjoy the benets and real prots from their sales, which generates precariousness in the quality
of life of the people of the Global South. is phenomenon, in turn, classies countries accord-
ing to their importance within the modern capitalist system, dierentiating into central territo-
ries (North-consumers) and peripheral regions (South-producers) (Brand & Wissen, 2017). In
this sense, the global division of labor with historical roots in mercantilization, colonialism, and
neocolonialism fosters a relationship of subordination of the peripheral territories to the Global
Production Networks.
In the words of Klaus Dörre (Dörre, 2009; 2022), this is a phenomenon typical of Modern
Capitalism, in which the appropriation of territories (Landnhame) becomes a fundamental ele-
ment for its global expansion and growth. In this sense,
…land does not only represent territories or lands, but also populations, modes of production,
ways of life and, more recently, sets of knowledge or data that are not yet fully subjected to the
exchange of goods dominated by the pursuit of economic prot. (Dörre, 2022, p. 17)
Global Capitalism thus generates an asymmetrical power relationship between territories
based on a precise concentration of power. e Global North directs and controls productive pro-
cesses and decentralizes production towards peripheral regions in the search for new territories
to control to obtain their resources and cheap labor. ese are global dynamics of aid and labor
appropriation. ese dynamics lead to global gaps in economic, social, and political inequalities,
which have been increasing in recent years (Tricontinental, 2022, p. 27).
4. Neo-extractivism in the Global South
In this context of territorial appropriation dynamics, the phenomenon of Neoextractivism
appears on the scene. Neoextractivism is an economic project linked to the appropriation, overex-
ploitation, and extraction of large volumes of natural resources, such as minerals, hydrocarbons,
or foodstus, to generate a valuation of these resources in the global market (Gudynas, 2009;
Acosta, 2011; Bebbington, 2012; Haarstad, 2012; Lander, 2012; Veltmeyer, 2013; Burchardt, 2016;
Svampa, 2012; 2019). As a characteristic, in most cases, these resources are exported without pro-
cessing or industrialization, with minimal aggregated value. Likewise, in this process of extrac-
tion of natural resources, various adverse socio-environmental eects are generated in parallel,
involving high ecological destruction and an increase in social inequality, social exclusion, and
modication of social relations (Burchardt, 2016, p. 76).
In this way, neo-extractivism is congured as a phenomenon closely linked to the demands
of the international market, generating a relationship of dependence between the extractive econ-
omies of Latin America and the global market, developing, in turn, interdependence between
local and national processes and global transformations (Coronado & Dietz, 2013, p. 96). In this
sense, worldwide demand and intensive consumption of natural resources become the driving
Social inequality and environmental injustice. The eects of global consumption on the Global
Javier Lastra-Bravo
force of extractivism, responding mainly to the requests of the countries of the Global North.
In this context, the regions of the Global South have historically been associated with pro-
cesses linked to the exploitation of natural resources, which date back to the time of the conquest,
expanding along with colonialism (Quijano, 2000; Machado, 2013; Neyra, 2018, p. 6). ese pro-
cesses have led to the extraction of natural resources becoming the backbone of the region’s cur-
rent economies. is process was consolidated in the 1980s and 1990s when structural changes
based on the neoliberal model promoted exports and trade in raw materials (Gudynas, 2009; CE-
PAL, 2011; Svampa, 2012; Burchardt & Dietz, 2013).
In recent decades, in the Global South, there has been an exponential increase in the devel-
opment of extractive activities, increasing not only the number of extractive operations but also
their magnitude and expansion, developing not only in traditional extraction areas but also in
other places where the extractive industry has not usually made incursions. is has generated
a process of expansion on the dispossession of goods and people and territories (Harvey, 2004;
Svampa, 2019). On the other hand, this expansion is closely linked to an increase and deepening
of social and environmental inequalities, increasing the system’s unsustainability, and nally po-
sitioning us in a civilizational crisis related to questioning the forms of development, consump-
tion, and depredation of natural resources.
In this sense, neoextractivism can be dened as a phenomenon closely related to the creation
of global inequality. is phenomenon fosters the dislocation of productive processes and gener-
ates a dependence on international markets and prices.
On the one hand, the boom in raw material exports has allowed the countries of the Global
South to generate growing revenues, which has also increased the nancial margin for develop-
ment activities and the generation of public policies with a social dimension. is shows a rela-
tionship between neo-extractivism and the attempts of States to solve the social problems of their
populations through these rents (Gudynas, 2009, p. 209; Gudynas, 2013, p. 38; Burchardt & Dietz,
2013, p. 194). On the other hand, economic dependence on the Global North has been maintained
since, under the logic of neo-extractivism, the countries of the Global South remain in a position
of exporting subordination, dependent on the demands of international markets and the regula-
tion that these generate for the prices of raw materials. ey also maintain a growing dependence
on foreign investment and nancial assistance (Gudynas, 2010, p. 43).
5. Environmental injustice
As can already be seen, neo-extractive activities are closely related to adverse social, politi-
cal, economic, and environmental consequences. In this sense, the extractive industry has been
predominantly characterized by provoking -as one of its associated eects- forced displacements
of nearby populations, generating eco-social vulnerability, i.e., aecting their daily life. e ex-
pansion of the extractivist model in the Global South has been bred to a large extent in territories
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PACHARevista de Estudios Contemporáneos del Sur Global
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inhabited by human groups that, in most cases, are vulnerable since the State does not have a
signicant presence, specically in sectors where infrastructure and services are dicult to access
(Lastra-Bravo, 2022).
Together with displacements, the extractive industry generates a restoration and new order
over territorial control. It is the generation of unequal and asymmetrical power dynamics in which
the inhabitants, small farmers, or indigenous communities are at a disadvantage to the extractive
industries regarding territorial decisions. e extractive industry indirectly inuences global poli-
cies and market demands on national and local decisions (Coronado & Dietz, 2013, p. 95).
All these processes increase the internal inequality of the countries, generating signicant
economic gaps in the regions where the extractive processes are carried out. But it is also a phe-
nomenon of environmental injustice since these processes increase the vulnerability of the pres-
ent populations. On the other hand, if we link our analysis to macro aspects, we can show that
the consumption processes of the Global North generate adverse eects and local problems in the
territories of the Global South, specically in terms of production processes, generating structural
inequalities but also generating environmental injustice.
An excellent example to explain these dynamics can be Avocado consumption. e avo-
cado’s journey to European supermarkets is a great adventure, as this fruit travels a long way be-
fore it can reach the table. Chilean avocados come from the country’s central region, specically
from the region of Valparaiso, where they are cultivated in monoculture even in places that are
not climatically suitable for this, making excessive use of water resources. Once the avocados are
ripe, they are harvested by temporary workers in precarious working conditions. Due to the high
technology of the crops, only a few workers in the territory are employed in agricultural work,
generating very little development in the territory.
e avocado agro-industry is also a long-term monoculture since the useful life of this tree
is around 25 to 30 years. erefore, this activity generates changes in the territories that are trans-
formations that last over time. is extensive and accelerated production has caused diverse costs
and environmental damage in the territories where it is developed, generating, for example, soil
desertication, droughts, erosion, and loss of biodiversity. is aects the quality of life of neigh-
boring populations, preventing them from enjoying fundamental rights such as access to water
or living in a safe and pollution-free environment (Rojas & Lastra-Bravo, 2019) or from ensuring
their food sovereignty (Lastra-Bravo, 2019), in many cases increasing the vulnerability to which
some groups, such as indigenous groups, have been historically subjected (Lastra-Bravo, 2021).
e production of avocado crops requires a high level of water, requiring up to 9,500 mil-
lion liters of water (Mekonnen & Hoekstra, 2010, p. 20), which means a signicant burden for
the water systems, not allowing their regeneration capacity and threatening the collapse of the
water services of the surrounding populations (Rojas & Barra, 2020). is situation has generated
various social conicts related to water resources, such as the case of the Petorca community and
its defense of the right to water through the Movement for the Defense of Water, Land, and the
Social inequality and environmental injustice. The eects of global consumption on the Global
Javier Lastra-Bravo
Environment (MODATIMA) (Panez-Pinto et al., 2017).
e loss of land by peasants and communities has also become a signicant problem be-
cause national and transnational agroindustrial companies need fertile land strategically located
for avocado production to generate large-scale plantations. Along with the loss of land, a process
of biodiversity loss has been developed because intensive production also requires the generation
of monocultures, which means that other endemic plants and trees are eliminated from the agro-
industrial zones. ese processes generate the creation of sacricial zones (Lastra-Bravo, 2022, p.
37), such as areas subjected to extensive productive extraction processes to create commodities
to be exported to the world market according to global consumption patterns. Regardless of their
inhabitants’ quality of life, it oen aects the development of their daily activities and, in the case
of indigenous communities, the reproduction of traditional ways of life.
e avocados then continue their journey and are transported by truck to warehouses, where
they are sorted and cooled in cold storage at 4 and 8 degrees, delaying the normal ripening of the
fruit. e fruits are shipped on cargo ships, where they travel for about three weeks until they
reach European ports, where they undergo a process of articial ripening that lasts about one to
two weeks. Aer this process, the avocados are ready to be transported to their nal destinations
in supermarkets for consumption.
It is worth mentioning that European and mainly Dutch international consortiums direct
the purchase and sale of this fruit. e percentage of direct investments from Chilean producers
is very minimal.
In this way, avocado extraction in Chile causes severe environmental problems in its produc-
tion. It generates economic imbalances since most of the sales process is directed by international
companies that manage their prices.
e extractive industry in the Global South is involved in a dichotomy regarding the ef-
fects it produces. On the one hand, we nd signicant prots in countries where the industry
is developed, prots that allow the generation of critical public policies linked to improving the
population’s quality of life. However, as several analyses point out (Burchardt, 2016; Peters, 2016;
Matthes, 2019; Svampa, 2019), these prots are only reected at a structural level, being obtained
through taxes, royalties, and specic taxes, being altogether a minimal part of the total prots that
the industry generates, demonstrating an imbalance between the actual prot and the taxation to
the State.
Finally, in addition to all these environmental problems -generated by the processes of Glob-
al Production and Consumption- we must mention that climate change has become a factor of
great relevance when talking about the relationship between Inequalities and Environmental In-
justice since the climate crisis, its eects and impacts are evidenced in a dierentiated manner in
the dierent geographical areas, being paradoxically the Global South the territory most aected
by these changes.
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6. Conclusions
As we have demonstrated in this chapter, inequality is a global problem, not only because
of its geographic scope but also because of its interrelations between North and South, which are
strengthened and modied based on global production networks and power asymmetries. ey
are also sustained by globalization, trade liberalization, and productive de-localization processes.
In this sense, social inequality must also be understood and analyzed based on historical
phenomena that have shaped the current global structure of inequality and power asymmetries.
For example, historical processes such as colonialism, the creation of the world system, and the
international division of labor, through which structures and hierarchies have been created to the
roles that territories and countries play on the world stage. Precisely, the Global South is thus po-
sitioned as a territory subordinated to the global processes of production and consumption so that
the phenomena of inequality not only respond to poorly executed national policies, high levels of
corruption, tax evasion, or unfair wages but also due to the global repercussions of geopolitics and
the global macro economy.
In this sense, the South has been congured as a peripheral production space, with precari-
ous work levels and quality of life levels much lower than other latitudes of the world, which is
a reection of global exclusion dynamics. erefore, as we have widely argued, inequality results
from the transregional dependence on the Global South.
Global capitalism thus generates an asymmetrical power relationship between territories
based on a precise concentration of power. e Global North directs and controls productive
processes and decentralizes production to peripheral regions in search of new parts to maintain
to obtain its resources and cheap labor. ese are global dynamics of appropriation of resources
and work, leading to global gaps of economic, social, and political inequalities, which have been
increasing in recent years. In this way, we have demonstrated that what allows the reproduction
of the forms of the daily life of the Global North is the production, extraction, and exploitation of
the Global South. is phenomenon ultimately translates into processes in which the sovereignty
of States is aected, specically in terms of their economic dependence on markets and global
production networks.
On the other hand, although income dierences have recently decreased in some countries,
their basic structure in economic and social inequalities continues to be maintained and repro-
duced. is persistent phenomenon has historical roots in the colonial era, which has been con-
solidated in establishing neoliberal policies in the Global South since the 1980s.
We can conclude that the current economic model, production processes, and forms of con-
sumption have multiplied the inequalities of the North to the South, generating processes of deep-
ening the structural dependence of the “peripheries” on the global production networks and the
international division of labor. e Global North thus controls the productive processes in other
regions of the world, reinforcing the dynamics of appropriation of income, labor, resources, and
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Javier Lastra-Bravo. Ph.D. in Socioloy. Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany. Profesor e investigador postdoctoral
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y Estudios Atlánticos.
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