New blog post about the political potentials in the apparent privatization of responsibility for plastic reduction is online at Soziologieblog.
In the course of my ethnographic research about plastic reduction in food supply, I have repeatedly encountered the individualization of responsibility. In interviews with representatives from commercial enterprises, but also at public discussion events or citizen dialogues, ethical consumption is promoted as the central issue for plastic waste reduction. People presented their own strategies for gaining a zero waste lifestyle, while the social (political or economic) challenges of plastic reduction were often missed out in these discussions. Accordingly, the plastic waste problem is mainly discussed as a problem of individual purchasing decisions. This is also observable in the form of popular transformation efforts: DIY-ideas and blogs on plastic free living and zero waste are booming, while the food industry seems to limit its endeavours on symbolic initiatives such as the ban on the free plastic bag. Does individual problem solving contribute to the depoliticization of the waste problem, or does it offer micro-political potential for the immanent critique of packaging dependencies and constraints? In a sociological analysis of these questions, I discuss the political potentials in the apparent privatization of problem solving. Therefore, I present a sequential analysis of an ethnographic dialogue with an employee in a supermarket warehouse.
Read the full article here. (in German only)