E-waste

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Conflicts and citizens expertises in a techno-environmental controversy

Abstract for this session

Access to electronic communications and the availability of perennial updated information has transformed our lives and social habits in a positive way. However, there also exists a controversial reverse of the Information's Society. We are referring to electronic waste. It's an environmental problem that responds to the promotion of unsustainable patrons of technological consumption. Only Europe produces 10.3 million tons per year of electronic waste, about a quarter of the world's total amount and it's expected this number to rise up to 12.3 million tonnes a year by 2020. Despite of the striking data and the alarm raised from international forums and ecological organisations, we are facing an environmental (ecological and socio-technical) controversy whom we don't know many of their components: the current institutional responses are very limited (practically, they come down to apply the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)) and the possible daily and innovative responses emerging from citizenship remain invisible. As the previous step towards an ethnographic fieldwork, and through content analysis methodology, we will present the state of the art fruit of the news, documents and social science and STS' literature that deal with this increasing problem. This will let us to draw a map of the involved agents, their positions, practices and arguments, and also their different relationships around e-waste. Who and how is defining what an electronic device is or stops being? How the limits and possibilities of electronics' lifespan are being controversially defined? Which is the role of citizenship and informal groups in the Spanish e-waste's context? How their innovative and creative informal practices may become potential expert processes to (re)define and democratize technological knowledge production and public politics around e-waste?

Bio Blanca Callén Moreu

Blanca Callén has worked as a postdoctoral visiting researcher at the Centre for Science Studies in the Sociology Department of the Lancaster University until January 2014. She made her PhD on Social Psychology in the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), about techno-activism and the experience of open source software development in Riereta.net (http://ubuntuone.com/p/Isg/). Her main research interests are political collective action and urban conflicts in techno-scientific and control societies, specially through feminist epistemologies and qualitative methods. During last years, she collaborated with the organisation of the 1^st MEND*RS Research Symposium about mending and she is currently organising the research e-waste seminar titled "When All That Is High-Tech Turns Into Waste", which will take place in Lancaster University on the 26^th and 27^th of February 2014 (registration: _http://bit.ly/1ezTPbp).

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