"That was cheap anyway": textile evaluation from favourite thing to waste
(University of Oldenburg)
Paper short abstract:
The talk explores the evaluation, calculation and saving practices that are carried out in everyday decisions about consuming, caring or disposing clothes in the household.
Paper long abstract:
An endlessly growing mountain of rubbish in European households consists of clothes. Once sorted out, there is several ways what to do with it: give it to friends or family (Wagener-Böck 2012), use it as cleaning rag, bring it to a charity collection (Norris 2012), a second-hand shop (Tranberg-Hansen 2000), to the recycling-container or simply put in in the dustbin. But even before sorting out, an everyday valuation in the household helps to decide what becomes waste sooner or later. Apart from stylistic decisions (e.g. Ege 2013, Lehnert 2013, Vinken 2005) there are important material implications (Miller 2004) and a reservoir of skills that help to understand the decision what to do with ones clothes. Do I still wear it? What to do with stains? Can I mend it? What time does this take? Do I need a tailor's shop? Is it worth the effort and money? Is it good enough to ask friends if they would like to have it? A foundation of these decisions lays in evaluating former price, material state, attached memories and emotions but also style and an overall situation. Once these values are formulated - whether rationalized or not - different resources and values are calculated which maybe ends in a decision for saving. The talk will draw on empirical material from a fieldwork in a German neighbourhood (Hamburg 2014) that inquired everyday textile practices in the household.
Generating value and valuation as collaborative practice