The Creation and Destruction of Value - Second Edition
Distributed for Pluto Press
When his highly influential Rubbish Theory, first published in 1979, Michael Thompson launched the discipline of waste studies. It remains the most comprehensive analysis on the culture of waste to date. Thompson argues that there are two mutually exclusive cultural categories that are socially imposed on the world of objects: a transient category and a durable category. However, he identifies a region of flexibility, wherein a transient object that declines in value and life span can linger in a valueless and timeless limbo of rubbish, until it is discovered by a creative individual and transferred into something deemed durable. He links stability and change on one hand, with materiality on the other, providing a rich analysis of social and cultural dynamics. His instrumental theory of rubbish draws on case studies and anthropological fieldwork to highlight the ever-changing subtleties of object value and our complex relationship to waste.
Bringing Rubbish Theory back into print, this updated edition includes a new introduction, preface, foreword, and afterword, thoroughly exploring how Thompson’s key theories have affected our world in the four decades since it was first published and placing it in a contemporary context that shines light on the continued relevance of the book today.