The Sociology of Garbage

Soc 118GK – The Sociology of Garbage
Spring 2021
Choose one of the following prompts:

1. What’s in your trash?

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To the extent possible, physically collect all of your discards for a day. Record what you cannot save with a photo and/or notes, and record your collected garbage at the end of the day with photos and notes, being sure to include each item. Having done this, respond to the following questions:
– How hard or easy was it to get rid of these things, and why do you think that is?
– What might an outsider learn about you sociologically from looking at your waste?
– Where did these items come from, and based on where you live, where do you think
they will end up?
You may choose to reflect on a few particular items to focus your essay, but this is not required. Photos are welcome!

2. Taking stock of solutions

Choose an intervention that seeks to remedy some aspect of the garbage problem. Drawing on course material, critically analyze the possibilities and limitations of this potential solution. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the zero-waste movement, plastic bans, extended producer responsibility laws, environmental justice movements (please choose a specific one), efforts to improve the conditions of informal waste work, composting, and green design. You may choose to focus on these in a particular place (e.g. Europe, Chicago, Beijing, U.S., Navajo Nation), or you can look at them from a broader/global perspective. Respond to the following questions:
– What benefits does this intervention promise?
– How specifically would this change the existing system?
– What kinds of challenges does the intervention face? What would need to be overcome in order to be successful?
Feel free to include images to describe the issue you are discussing.
– You should include a minimum of 3 course readings in your essay. You may also cite lectures and media in addition to these.
– References are required can be done in any style, but they must be complete and consistent. You can find the American Sociological Association (ASA) style guidelines here.
– You may use outside sources, but be sure to cite them
– Your essays should be between 1,200-1,700 words (about 5 to 7 double-spaced pages) For more information on The Sociology of Garbage see this:

The Sociology of Garbage

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