Globalisation and neo-liberalism have seen the rise of new international powers, increasingly interlinked economies, and mass urbanisation. The internet, mobile communications and mass migration have transformed lives around the planet. For some, this has been positive and liberating, but it has also been destructive of settled communities and ways of living, ecologies, economies and livelihoods, cultural values, political programmes and identities. This edited volume uses the concept of waste to explore and critique the destructive impact of globalisation and neo-liberalism.

By bringing to bear the distinct perspectives of sociologists of class, religion and culture; anthropologists concerned with infrastructures, material waste and energy; and analysts from accounting and finance exploring financialization and supply chains, this collection explores how creative responses to the wastelands of globalisation can establish alternative, at times fragile, narratives of hope. Responding to the tendency in contemporary public and academic discourse to resort to a language of the ‘laid to waste’ or ‘left behind’ to make sense of social and cultural change, the authors of this volume focus on the practices and rhetorics of waste in a range of different empirical settings to reveal the spaces for political action and social imagination that are emerging even in times of polarisation, uncertainty and disillusionment.

This inter-disciplinary approach, developed through a decade of research in the ESRC Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC), provides a distinctive perspective on the ways in which people in very different social and cultural contexts are negotiating the destructive and creative possibilities of recent political and economic change.

chapter |19 pages


chapter |23 pages

Must Brexit be a waste?

Economic policies for a disunited kingdom

chapter |25 pages

‘The ghosts of class’

Space, waste and hope in the ex-industrial north

chapter |20 pages

Rubbish city, rubbish music

Durability and transience in ‘Madchester’ club cultures

chapter |21 pages

Coping with change

Community, environment and engagement in a London Buddhist community

chapter 5|18 pages

A waste of energy?

Traversing the moral landscape of energy consumption in the UK

chapter 6|20 pages

Reconfiguring state-citizen relations

The politics of waste infrastructures

chapter 7|24 pages

Refugee waste

Death, survival and solidarity in Lesvos