"They were built to last": Anti-consumption and the materiality of waste in obsolete buildings

Stephanie Anderson, Kathy Hamilton, Andrea Tonner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Previous consumer research on waste has prioritized disposable and low-involvement possessions. The authors extend scholarship into the context of obsolete buildings as a means to better engage with the complex materiality of waste and to explore the role anti-consumption plays in consumers’ valuations of end-stage consumption. This study focuses on the phenomenon of urban exploration, a subculture who seek to discover and explore derelict buildings. Drawing on an ethnographic study including in-depth interviews, the authors reveal how anti-consumption manifests in the urban environment in terms of alternative understandings of value. In contrast to the economic valuations that often dominate public policy decision making, this study highlights the need for policy makers to consider diverse, and perhaps conflicting, value regimes. The authors propose an Obsolescence Impact Evaluation that enables a systematic assessment of the stakeholders potentially impacted by redevelopment and demolition, differing regimes of valuation relevant to the decision and potential uses of the buildings. The authors suggest various ways that public policy makers can take advantage of this tool.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-212
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Public Policy and Marketing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • environmental waste
  • consumption
  • obsolescence
  • ethnography
  • consumer behaviour
  • public policy
  • anti-consumption
  • waste


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