Militaries are distinct social institutions that significantly impact the environment. As militaries seek to satisfy institutional goals, they put unique pressure on industries that help supply vital materials. Operating under the logic of the treadmill of destruction, militaries generate specific forms of risk. This paper focuses on the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange during the American War in Vietnam as a markedly militarized form of risk. Through a historical case study, this paper demonstrates how the risks associated with military herbicide use differ from commercial, civilian use. Military demands and strategic goals influenced how Agent Orange was produced and used, leading to a more dangerous product used in greater quantities and at higher concentrations. This research underscores the importance of focusing on the institutional drivers of militarization, demonstrating how this can further develop our understanding of risk production and environmental degradation.
Militarization, Risk, and the Environment: Agent Orange as a Distinct Risk
Daniel Auerbach is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wyoming, in Laramie. His research focuses on the social drivers of environmental change. His recent research focuses on both political economic and militaristic drivers of environmental degradation.
Daniel Auerbach; Militarization, Risk, and the Environment: Agent Orange as a Distinct Risk. Sociology of Development 2023; doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sod.2023.0029
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