Disposability and dispossession in the twentieth century

Gavin Lucas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)


This article addresses the issue of disposability in modern Anglo-American society, through a historical and archaeological perspective of late 19th- and 20th-century practices surrounding waste. Starting from what is identified as a dilemma in disposability, caught between two moral systems of the household- thrift and hygiene - this article discusses these systems in terms of waste and the activities surrounding it. Through examination of various practices and drawing on several examples and case studies, it is argued that the issue of disposability is intimately linked to consumption, specifically through the problem of inalienability and its effect on dispossession or the shedding off of domestic and personal objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Other keywords

  • Consumption
  • Disposability
  • Dispossession
  • Inalienability
  • Recycling
  • Rubbish
  • Waste


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