Making bioplastics : an investigation of material-product relationships

Tonuk, Damla and Shove, Elizabeth and Suchman, Lucy (2016) Making bioplastics : an investigation of material-product relationships. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This study explores how bioplastics come into being and are changing by focusing on the relationship between bioplastic materials and the products into which they are made. Bioplastics, which are types of plastics that are made from plant sources and/or can be decomposed by microbial activity, are a challenging set of materials not only because of their variety, but also because of the multitude of industries, actors and socio-technical arrangements involved in their making. I explore the different places in which bioplastics are made; in practices of categorising and standardising and so defining bioplastics, in production and the realisation of bioplastics in everyday life through their substitution for other materials, and in branding where bioplastics are made variously visible, as well invisible, as their particular qualities are enacted in specific material-product relationships. I draw conclusions about the nature of the relationship between materials and products, how they are separate but also intricately interconnected, at the same time acknowledging that what is named as a material and as a product is contingent upon the stakeholder in the production chain of materials and products. I detail the ways in which materials get shaped by and also shape the standardization and production infrastructures, interests of different actors, competitor materials, and values at stake within their interaction to specific products. The aim of my study is to open up new connections and pathways for the study of materials, as well as objects, within the social sciences.

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Thesis (PhD)
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22 Feb 2016 10:28
Last Modified:
30 May 2024 01:22