From Trash to Treasure
Valuing Waste in Dumpster Diving
The paper, based on an ongoing research project conducted in Finland, examines voluntary dumpster diving as a practice of valuation. Its main questions are: How is voluntary dumpster diving intertwined with the question of value? And, conversely, what can dumpster diving teach us about practices of valuation more generally? The article proceeds via three steps. First, in order to emphasize the creative side of dumpster diving as a practice of valuation, we draw on Georg Simmel’s theory of value, supplementing it with the concepts of actuality and virtuality, as elaborated by Gilles Deleuze. Second, we look more closely into the practicalities of valuation evident in dumpster diving. It involves a particular orientation to the urban environment that we call the scavenger gaze. Third, the informants also value the practice itself in relation to its societal relevance. They think about dumpster diving as a way of doing good and as part of an ecologically sound form of life. All in all, as value does not reside inherently in waste or would simply be merely the product of subjective judgment, the analyst must attend to multiple modes of valuation evident in the practice, among which there is no self-evident hierarchy.
Copyright (c) 2020 Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen, Olli Pyyhtinen
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