Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash

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9780805048308: Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash

An unprecedented look at that most commonplace act of everyday life-throwing things out-and how it has transformed American society.

Susan Strasser's pathbreaking histories of housework and the rise of the mass market have become classics in the literature of consumer culture. Here she turns to an essential but neglected part of that culture-the trash it produces-and finds in it an unexpected wealth of meaning. Before the twentieth century, streets and bodies stank, but trash was nearly nonexistent. With goods and money scarce, almost everything was reused. Strasser paints a vivid picture of an America where scavenger pigs roamed the streets, swill children collected kitchen garbage, and itinerant peddlers traded manufactured goods for rags and bones. Over the last hundred years, however, Americans have become hooked on convenience, disposability, fashion, and constant technological change-the rise of mass consumption has led to waste on a previously unimaginable scale.

Lively and colorful, Waste and Want recaptures a hidden part of our social history, vividly illustrating that what counts as trash depends on who's counting, and that what we throw away defines us as much as what we keep.

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About the Author:

Susan Strasser is the author of the award-winning Never Done: A History of American Housework and Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market. She lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

From Kirkus Reviews:

By their trash shall you know them'' is the theme of this research-driven exploration of the rubbish and refuse habits of more than two centuries of Americans. ``Rubbish took on new meanings'' in the vast transition between the preindustrial society of the 18th century and the consumer culture of the 20th, says Strasser (Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market, 1989). She not only sorts what was trash in the 19th century, but tracks how and why what is defined as garbage expanded from a few shards of broken crockery buried in the backyard to landfills full of computers and disposable diapers. Described in detail are thrifty habits of 19th-century families, who refashioned worn or used objects of every description from broken bottles (could be made into funnels and bowls) to tired party dresses. If objects like rags and bones couldn't be reused in the home, they were sold to itinerant peddlers to be recycled into paper and buttons. Children scavenged back alleys to find castoffs, especially scrap metal, that could be sold for a few pennies. At the turn of the century, increasing class differences, the growth of manufacturing, new concern with sanitation, and the entrance of women into the marketplace with no time to refurbish worn clothing brought upheaval to trash culture. Further changes are tracked through WWI, the Depression, and WWII, when recycling fat, metal, rubber, and paper became a patriotic duty. A wave of consumerism followed WWII, and the current wave of recycling is an offshoot of the countercultural 1960s, says Strasser. Although concerned about the continuing large volume of refuse generated now, Strasser is heartened that sorting trash for disposal has been revived, this time as a moral act and not a pecuniary one. Rummaging through the trash barrel of history has unearthed some choice, if occasionally dry, morsels of 20th-century culture. (b&w photos) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Strasser, Susan
Editorial: Metropolitan Books (1999)
ISBN 10: 0805048308 ISBN 13: 9780805048308
Nuevos Tapa dura Cantidad: 2
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Descripción Metropolitan Books, 1999. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Nº de ref. de la librería P110805048308

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Strasser, Susan
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Descripción Metropolitan Books. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. 0805048308 New Condition. Nº de ref. de la librería NEW6.0462722

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Susan Strasser
Editorial: Metropolitan Books (1999)
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Ergodebooks
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