IDS Bulletin Vol. 28 Nos. 3

Thoughts on Poverty from a South Asian Rubbish Dump:

Published on 1 July 1997

Summaries The author reflects on the interlocking circuits of accumulation and consumption that characterise the management of household solid waste or garbage in two South Asian cities. She examines the multiple axes of inequality and interdependence that characterise the social relations of residential waste work. Interactions are explored among household members, and between them and paid waste workers such as domestic workers, sweepers and pickers. The article challenges gender stereotypes of women having a special affinity with the environment, at least in the context of the urban environment and solid waste management. It also rejects any essentialist linking of particular social groups to waste and dirty work, arguing that in the case of both gender and caste relations, association with waste is socially constructed. It is argued that women’s responsibility for waste management in the household gender division of labour is mediated by both wealth and poverty. Equally, that particular groups of waste workers have occupational niches in different areas of waste work is mediated by gender and caste?like relations. A case is made for recognising the micro?politics of household and residential solid waste management in policy formulation and planning. The article proposes that this has implications both for effective waste management and for policies concerned to integrate anti?poverty strategies in efforts to improve the managment of urban services.

Cite this publication

Beall, J. (1997) Thoughts on Poverty from a South Asian Rubbish Dump: . IDS Bulletin 28(3): 73-90

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Beall, Jo


Related content