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Identity, mobility and the throwaway society.



This paper provides a critique of the concept of the throwaway society. Drawing on two years of intensive qualitative research, we argue that the concept of the throwaway society does not bear scrutiny. Rather than throwing things away, households are shown consistently to engage in simultaneous practices of saving and wasting when getting rid of consumer objects. Saving and wasting are shown to be critical to materialising identities and the key social relations of family and home. Focusing on self, the couple relation, and the mother – child relation, we show how wasting things is intimately connected to the narration of self and to the enactment of specific love relations. The paper also shows how wasting things is central to moving home, constituting a surplus and then an excess of household possessions. The paper concludes by arguing that to understand the increasing amount of matter being turned to waste in the UK requires a focus on love relations and mobility, and not on the trajectories of things themselves.

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