Tue Feb 8 15:30

Values of Repair Practices

By Values of Repair Practices

Values of Repair Practices presents two papers: The Political Economy of Circular Economies: Lessons from Future Repair Scenario Deliberations in Sweden, and Repair for a Broken Economy: Lessons for Circular Economy from an International Interview Study of Repairers.

Vaules of Repair Practices investigates how cultural variation in practical ethics and norms of repair impact on the interpretation, implementation and contestation of the ideas of a circular economy (CE). Through a series of study visits, interviews and other deliberative engagements with practitioners and theorists of repair, we undertake a discursive and deliberative exploration of practical ethics and norms of repair in contrasting disciplines and cultures, focusing on the prevalence and significance of ethics of care and legibility. We compare and contrast the interpretations, values and norms revealed in repair practices of restoration, reconstruction, remediation, reconciliation and reconfiguration with those found in CE policy and promotion, so as to derive lessons and recommendations for the effective development of such policy from a better understanding of the normative motivations and constraints influencing repair practices. The project runs through three phases: first, literature-based analysis of repair disciplines and practices inside and outside of the CE; second, interviews with repairers and CE actors to analyze diverse cultures of practical ethics and norms of repair; and thirdly, deliberative engagement with repairers, CE actors and policy makers to explore implications for policy and practice.

Read more in the following two papers:

The Political Economy of Circular Economies ↓

The idea of replacing the broken linear economy with circular forms to help address the current sustainability crisis is gaining world-wide traction in policy, industry, and academia. This article presents results from an international interview study with 34 repair practitioners and experts in different fields. The article aims to improve understandings of the potential of repair so as to contribute to a more just, sustainable, and circular economy. Through a five-step qualitative method the results reveal and explore three tensions inherent in repair: first, repair activities constitute different forms of subjectivity; second, repair entails different and sometimes contested temporalities; and finally, even though repair is deeply political in practice, the politics of repair are not always explicit, and some repair activities are actively depoliticized. The opportunities and obstacles embodied in these tensions are generative in repair practices and debates, but poorly reflected in contemporary circular economy discourse. We conclude that a richer, more inclusive, and politicized understanding of repair can support environmental justice in the implementation of circular economy (CE) and provide greater opportunities for just and transformational sustainability strategies and policies.

Repair for a Broken Economy ↓

The dominant technocratic and neoliberal imaginary of a circular economy dependent on corporate leadership, market mechanisms, and changed consumer behaviour is here explored using the findings of deliberative stakeholder workshops examining diverse scenarios for the promotion of repair as part of a circular economy. Stakeholder responses to four scenarios—digital circularity, planned circularity, circular modernism, and bottom-up sufficiency—are described with reference to the ideologies, interests, and institutions involved. We distinguish two levels of discourse in the stakeholder discussions. The main narrative in which individualist and consumerist ideologies dominate, even within ideals of sustainability, reflects a conjunction of corporate, labour, and public interests in the market liberal social democratic state, with proposed interventions focused on the institutions of markets and education. A subaltern narrative present in the margins of the discussions challenges the consumerist and productivist presumptions of the market liberal political economy and hints at more transformative change. These conflicting responses not only cast light on the ways in which the political economy of contemporary Sweden (within the European Union) constrains and conditions current expectations and imaginaries of circularity, but also suggest ways in which the future political economy of circular economies might be contested and evolve.



FEBRUARY 7–11 • 2022


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