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Every Heaven requires its Hell: the consume & discard society and the invisible city

Conference paper
Authors María José Zapata Campos
Patrik Zapata
Published in Nordic Conference on Consumer Research, Gothenburg, May 30-June 1, 2012
Publication year 2012
Published at School of Public Administration
Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Language en
Keywords waste; city; urban infrastructures; invisibility; consumption
Subject categories Sociology


The paper unfolds how the effectiveness and invisibility of waste urban infrastructures contribute to the de-naturalisation of waste by ‘black-boxing’ the link between the citizens’ consumption habits and the growing mountain of waste; with the participation of human and non-human intermediaries (e.g. waste-vacuum-system, dark plastic bags, locked containers). The paper also discusses how environmental policies inverting the process of visibilisation of waste (e.g. education at schools, study visits, recycling containers, waste collection invoices) can contribute to reconnect processes of consumption and disposal in the contemporary city. The city of Gothenburg and its waste management system serves as an illustration.

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