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Political markets : recycling, economization and marketization.

Gregson, N. and Watkins, H. and Calestani, M. (2013) 'Political markets : recycling, economization and marketization.', Economy & Society., 42 (1). pp. 1-25.


This paper considers recycling as an economic activity, locating it in debates about economization, marketization and performativity. It argues that recycling is a reflexive intervention in economic activity which extends the boundaries of markets, by internalizing objects formerly externalized as wastes and by attending to the temporal properties of materials. It differentiates between activities based on manufacturing recycled products and the activities of materials recovery linked to commodity markets in secondary materials. By taking the in vivo economic experiment resulting from the UK's Ship Recycling Strategy as its empirical focus, the paper demonstrates how recycling connects to wider debates about experimentation and the constitution of markets, and shows the importance of assaying and assay devices as market devices to the economization of recycling. It further shows that, in materials recovery, measurement is estimation and things are hard to pacify. This makes recycling difficult to stabilize as an economic activity. The consequences are considerable: notably, the possibility of economic failure can threaten to contaminate stabilized (or ‘cold’) forms of politics. The importance of contracts as a means to securing politicized markets in secondary materials recovery is indicated.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:To cite this article correctly, please reference as: Gregson N, Watkins H, Calestani M (2013) Political markets: recycling, economization and marketization, Economy & Society 42: 1–25.
Keywords:Recycling, Economization, Performativity, Assaying and assay devices, Ship breaking, Waste
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:26 March 2013
Date of first online publication:2013
Date first made open access:No date available

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