Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

Overaccumulation, crisis, and the contradictions of household waste sorting

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This article builds on Marxist-feminist analyses of the links between the household, the economy, and the state through a discussion of recycling, pointing to the ways the unwaged work of household waste sorting contributes to capitalism’s crisis-prone dynamic of overaccumulation. Household waste sorting is an instance of work transfer – a reorganization of labor and day-to-day life by the state and industry in which production is shifted from industry into households without compensation. A periodization of ‘waste regimes’ reveals how the state management of waste both mirrors and is implicated in accumulation regimes, their crises, and their resolutions. The current recycling crisis demonstrates the contradictory nature and futility of recycling in capitalism, and the specific manner in which the work transfer involved in household waste sorting contributes to accumulation and crisis.


© The Author(s) 2021

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Capital & Class