Accumulation : The Material Politics of Plastic book cover
1st Edition

The Material Politics of Plastic

ISBN 9780415625821
Published July 18, 2013 by Routledge
256 Pages 26 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

From food punnets to credit cards, plastic facilitates every part of our daily lives. It has become central to processes of contemporary socio-material living. Universalised and abstracted, it is often treated as the passive object of political deliberations, or a problematic material demanding human management. But in what ways might a 'politics of plastics' deal with both its specific manifestation in particular artefacts and events, and its complex dispersed heterogeneity?

Accumulation explores the vitality and complexity of plastic. This interdisciplinary collection focuses on how the presence and recalcitrance of plastic reveals the relational exchanges across human and synthetic materialities. It captures multiplicity by engaging with the processual materialities or plasticity of plastic. Through a series of themed essays on plastic materialities, plastic economies, plastic bodies and new articulations of plastic, the editors and chapter authors examine specific aspects of plastic in action. How are multiple plastic realities enacted? What are their effects?

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, human and cultural geography, environmental studies, consumption studies, science and technology studies, design, and political theory.

Table of Contents

Introduction: From Materiality to Plasticity  Part I: Plastic Materialities  1. Plastics, Materials and Dreams of Dematerialization  2. Process and Plasticity: Printing, Prototyping and the Prospects of Plastic  Part II: Plastic Economies  3. Made to Be Wasted: PET and Topologies of Disposability  4. The Material Politics of Vinyl: How the State, Industry and Citizens Created and Transformed West Germany’s Consumer Democracy  5. Paying With Plastic: The Enduring Presence of the Credit Card  Part III: Plastic Bodies  6. The Death and Life of Plastic Surfaces: Mobile Phones  7. Reflections of an Unrepentant Plastiphobe: An Essay on Plasticity and the STS Life  8. Plasticizers: A Twenty-First Century Miasma  9. Plastics, the Environment and Human Health  Part IV: New Articulations  10. Where Does This Stuff Come From? Oil, Plastic and the Distribution of Violence  11. International Pellet Watch: Studies of the Magnitude and Spatial Variation of Chemical Risks Associated with Environmental Plastics  12. Plastic and the Work of the Biodegradable

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Jennifer Gabrys is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Principal Investigator on the ERC-funded project ‘Citizen sensing and environmental practice’.

Gay Hawkins is a Professorial Research Fellow in social and cultural theory and Director of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Mike Michael is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.


"This is a book on materiality in contemporary life. It deals with an issue that is not new, and the book itself is not hot off the press, actually it was published three years ago. However, Accumulation can be considered an interesting nutshell of the current debate about the materiality and the heterogeneous complexity of society as well as about the strategies we use to investigate and unfold it."
Dario Minervini, University of Naples