Rubbish Theory

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Outline the ways in which rubbish can be said to have value in a consumer society.

A consumer society is increasingly organized around consumption of goods and leisure, rather than the production of materials and services. It rests on consuming material goods as a supreme characteristic of value. Therefore individuals who do not consume are viewed as undervalued. Peoples consumer choices (taste and style) are seen to be indicators of who they are as a person and of their moves within the games of class, prestige, status, hierarchy, fashionability (“Features of a Consumer Society” McGregor 2011). Many spending and investments are committed to consuming, regardless of whether it is good for the environment and health, for example the publicity funds can be higher than the education budget. Consuming brings wasting. Customers are trapped in an ever changing new beginning of technology and have to dump their older equipments (Lemann, 2008 78-79). While people are fascinated to some artificial comfort and work a lot to achieve a measure of comfort, they are distracted from important political issues like freedom and tolerate authoritarian regimes. Material Lives considers how the making of society involves not only relations between people, but also relations between people and things and their environments; how society shapes and is shaped not just by humans but by material objects and the environment; and some of the consequences of the fact that our lives are influenced by both the human and material worlds. This thread is throughout an examination of consumption and customer society, queries markets of and power, and issue of sustainability and waste.

Rubbish is commonly defined as a thing that has no worth; it is what nobody wants, it is disvalued, so it is worthless and has zero value. This seems straightforward, but ‘value’ is a complex term. Items don’t simply have value by virtue of their physical properties. Items have value because people value them,...
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