The Socialocene: From Capitalocene to Transnational Waste Regimes

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In this article I will present a relational, and multiscalar, perspective on how state socialism interacted with and shaped the Capitalocene. I introduce a heuristic device, the term Socialocene, a transnational waste regime dominant through the Cold War-era, that is, during what Will Steffen and colleagues call “the great acceleration”. When extending the concept of waste beyond contamination to include squandered resources, the Socialocene emerges as a transnational waste regime in which the modes of waste generation of Western capitalism and central planning are mutually determining. One key relation is the effect of communism on mass consumption and throwaway society in the West; the other is the use of centrally planned economies as “cheap nature”, in Jason Moore’s sense. I will demonstrate the latter through several empirical examples and, in greater detail, through a case study of an Austrian chemical company outsourcing a toxic-waste-intensive product to a Hungarian chemical company in the 1960s.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StateE-pub ahead of print - Sep 23 2022


  • waste
  • Cold War
  • transnationality
  • state socialism
  • Capitalocene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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