Tma 02

Assignment Number – TMA 02

Outline the argument that rubbish is not worthless.

In this essay I will be looking at the argument that rubbish is not worthless. The word rubbish has many associations such as, no value, waste, worthless, discarded and unwanted. I am going to be looking at two theories which both suggest that rubbish is not worthless. Part one will be looking at Thomson’s Rubbish Theory, the creation and destruction of value (1979) this suggests that the value of rubbish and items change over time due to supply and demand. The second half will be looking at Externalities of rubbish, these are the costs that are not registered when an item is bought or sold.

Thomson’s Rubbish Theory suggests that there are three categories in which items are placed. Firstly objects produced for ordinary use or ‘transient items’ these are products that lose value over time such as clothing or cars. A ‘rubbish’ category, items that have zero value, these are obsolete or broken items for example worn out clothing or scrap cars. Lastly ‘durable’ items meaning that the value increases over time, for example antiques or art. Thomson’s theory is that items which move from the transient section to the durable section need to pass through the rubbish section, for example antiques would at some point be in the rubbish stage a long time ago, only with age have they become durable items.

Below are two general rules (Making Social Lives, Chapter 3, p128)

Price rises when demand increases relative to supply
Price falls when demand falls relative to supply

This model suggests that when demand rises for an item, the value goes up, for example Thomson provided an example which were Stevengraphs (making Social Lives, Chapter 3, p124), these are weaved silk pictures made by Thomas Stevens (1828 – 88) which were popular from 1869 onward as souvenirs, bookmarks and fans. In 1879 they could be sold for the equivalent of 5 pence but were not selling around the middle of...