Networked Ecological Citizenship, The New Middle Classes and the Provisioning of Sustainable Waste Management in Bangalore, India

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Abstract

Globalization and economic liberalization are enabling individuals in emerging economies like India to access lifestyles similar to the resource-intense West. This spread of consumerism poses substantial ecological challenges, and calls for studies that investigate the environmental values, ethics, and politics of India's new consumers. In this paper, I explore emerging pro-environmental behaviors in the city of Bangalore, India, among the new middle classes- its most significant consumer class. Using the case of home waste management, I show how household behavior change is made possible by neighborhood-based coordination, involving multiple actors such as environmentally-conscious residents, domestic help, and hired waste workers. Drawing on ecological citizenship theory, I discuss how waste management through recycling and composting is being implemented in Bangalore through networks of socio-economically privileged new middle class individuals. Their privileged social, political, and economic positions enable them to collectively enact changes in their cultural and structural contexts to facilitate pro-environmental initiatives. At the same time, the role of other actors like domestic servants and waste workers is also critical to the process. I show how ecological citizenship theory can be used to analyze and highlight voluntary involvement by socio-economically privileged individuals but fails to recognize the contributions of actors, who through their livelihood practices, play a pivotal role in producing the systems that enable pro-environmental behaviors among the elite. I conclude by suggesting that a critical analysis of the processes and political arrangements that produce pro-environmental behaviors is vital to sustainable consumption and production research in emerging economies like India.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Volume63
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Behavior change
  • Ecological citizenship
  • India
  • Recycling
  • Urban sustainability

Disciplines

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Civic and Community Engagement
  • Curriculum and Social Inquiry
  • Inequality and Stratification

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