'Waving the banana' at capitalism: Political theater and social movement strategy among New York's 'freegan' dumpster divers

Alex V. Barnard

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This article presents an ethnographic study of 'freegans', individuals who use behaviors like dumpster diving for discarded food and voluntary unemployment to protest against environmental degradation and capitalism. While freegans often present their ideology as a totalizing lifestyle which impacts all aspects of their lives, in practice, freegans emphasize what would seem to be the most repellant aspect of their movement: eating wasted food. New Social Movement (NSM) theory would suggest that behaviors like dumpster diving are intended to assert difference and an alternative identity, rather than make more traditional social movement claims. Through the lens of social dramaturgy, I engage with New Social Movement theory by arguing that unconventional tactics like dumpster diving can also have strategic components, serving to project a favorable image of movement organizations, recruit new participants, and achieve a positive portrayal in the mainstream media.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)419-444
    Number of pages26
    JournalEthnography
    Volume12
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Dec 2011

    Keywords

    • New Social Movements
    • New York City
    • consumerism
    • dumpster diving
    • freeganism
    • social dramaturgy
    • waste

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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