Rubbish Theory

1384 words 6 pages
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
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Many large corporations in the UK, like Marks&Spencers and Sainsbury’s have also started their own recycling schemes with a view to reduce waste to landfill by recycling the materials used in consumable items

Rubbish or waste value can also be influenced by a number of social factors and can be redefined in and out of the category of usefulness. Michal Thompson’s “Rubbish Theory: The Creation and Destruction of Value“(2009) attempts a comprehensive theory of value through a focus on the biographies, movements and transformations of objects. This paper has found that the Theory is useful to consumer researchers in three key ways. First it helps us to explore more fully the material dimensions of markets thus contributing to a ‘thingly turn’ in the study of consumption. Second it highlights the importance of thinking in terms of movement, flow and circulation and moves us away from means-end, supply-demand, and production-consumption linearities in thinking through the consumption process (Thompson, 1979 217-218). Third it suggests that value, rather than being an inbuilt property of an object, emerges through our ways of seeing and placing objects.

Most people are used to exploring the role of objects as resources in individual’s lives, trough their movement in and out of our field of vision. Further


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