An argument that social, political, and economic systems maintain power by discarding certain people, places, and things. Discard studies is an emerging field that looks at waste and wasting broadly construed. Rather than focusing on waste and trash as the primary objects of study, discard studies looks at wider systems of waste and wasting to explore how some materials, practices, regions, and people are valued or devalued, becoming dominant or disposable. In this book, Max Liboiron and Josh Lepawsky argue that social, political, and economic systems maintain power by discarding certain people, places, and things. They show how the theories and methods of discard studies can be applied in a variety of cases, many of which do not involve waste, trash, or pollution. Liboiron and Lepawsky consider the partiality of knowledge and offer a theory of scale, exploring the myth that most waste is municipal solid waste produced by consumers; discuss peripheries, centers, and power, using content moderation as an example of how dominant systems find ways to discard; and use theories of difference to show that universalism, stereotypes, and inclusion all have politics of discard and even purification--as exemplified in "inclusive" efforts to broaden the Black Lives Matter movement. Finally, they develop a theory of change by considering "wasting well," outlining techniques, methods, and propositions for a justice-oriented discard studies that keeps power in view.
"The Routledge Handbook of Waste Studies offers a comprehensive survey of the new field of waste studies, critically interrogating the cultural, social, economic and political systems within which waste is created, managed and circulated. While scholars have not settled on a definitive categorization of what waste studies is, more and more researchers claim that there is distinct cluster of inquiries, concepts, theories and key themes that constitute this field. In this handbook the editors and contributors explore the research questions, methods and case studies preoccupying academics working in this field, in an attempt to develop a set of criteria by which to define and understand waste studies as an interdisciplinary field of study. This handbook will be invaluable to those wishing to broaden their understanding of waste studies and to students and practitioners of Geography, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Environment and Sustainability studies"