Actor networks, modes of production, and waste regimes: Reassembling the macro-social

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The author argues for the necessity of a macro-theoretical framework for a systematic understanding of the waste-society relationship-a synthesis of the Marxist mode of production concept and the posthumanist concept of actor networks, sociomaterial assemblages, or collectives. Based on empirical data on Hungary's socialist and capitalist waste history (1948 to the present), it is shown that macro dynamics are qualitatively different from micro ones and thus their analytical separation is retained. At the same time, it is demonstrated that the common fallacy of Marxist and posthumanist theories to conflate social scale with level of abstraction unduly demonized macro-level concepts. Finally it is shown that existing syntheses of Marxism and actor-network theory cannot but treat waste as a theoretical derivative of the concept of value, and thus elide waste's concrete materiality. The concept of waste regime is proposed to resolve these shortcomings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1064
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

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