What counts as infrastructural labour? Community action as waste work in South Africa

Kathleen Stokes, Mary Lawhon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Studies of waste work have largely focused on labourers who collect and process materials in exchange for money, including informal waste reclaimers and those now working precariously due to neoliberalization. Researchers have also drawn attention to who sorts waste in and beyond the household. Here we examine voluntary clean-ups as well as waste education in South Africa. State discourse encourages people to engage with the wastescape without framing this participation as work. Yet such engagements require people to act, and changing existing practices and expectations of who does what (and who is paid what) to make waste flow. We argue that understanding such activities as infrastructural helps to explain how the state seeks to enrol citizens into waste configurations, and understanding them as labour enables more capacious politics and claims to waste’s value.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalArea Development and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2022

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