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Accepted Paper:

Plastic Time(s): The temporal choreography of plastics in citizens’ narratives  
Laura Bomm (University of Vienna) Ulrike Felt (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Our article shows how time in its multiple forms is of key importance in citizens’ engagement with plastics. Therein, four sets of temporal perspectives make tangible how citizens conceptualize plastics-related problems, how responsibility is distributed and how (non-)actions are imagined.

Paper long abstract:

Whilst plastics permeate almost every area of contemporary life, plastics are moving more and more on political and public agendas. In this article, we argue that investigating the complex issue of plastics from a time-sensitive perspective is of key importance for understanding how citizens conceptualize problems, how responsibility is distributed and how (non-)actions are imagined.

After engaging Austrian citizens in several focus groups with the topic of plastics, we identified four main sets of temporal perspectives in participants’ narratives. Each perspectives follows a certain logic and functions differently for their ordering of the relationships between plastics and society. Whilst these temporal perspectives are deeply entangled, we treat them as analytically separate to better understand how they function for citizens’ sense-making of plastics.

The four temporal perspectives range from (1) diagnostic narratives addressing citizens’ visions of contemporary society and its relation to plastics, over (2) present (in)tangibility narratives with reflections of plastics as a slow disaster, (3) justificatory narratives circulating around balancing moralities of usage duration with plastics afterlives, to end with (4) anticipatory narratives and the ways how citizens imagine possible futures with plastics.

Thinking these four temporal narratives on plastics together constitutes what we call Plastic Time(s). Therein, different temporal features embedded in plastic artefacts and society’s functioning co-produced contemporary ways of consuming (with) plastics. Simultaneously, it makes tangible how choreographies and tensions between temporal narratives are creating challenges for the individual citizen to seriously re-think society’s relationship with plastics now and in the future.

Panel Evid03b
Intractable plastic: responsibilities in ‘plasticized’ worlds II
  Session 1 Thursday 1 April, 2021, -