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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16767

Title: Recycling the City: The Impact of Urban Change on the Informal Waste-Recovery Trade in Hanoi, Vietnam
Authors: Mitchell, Carrie L.
Advisor: Maclaren, Virginia W.
Department: Geography
Keywords: Waste Management
Issue Date: 19-Jan-2009
Abstract: This three-paper dissertation explores how broader (and often unchallenged) changes to political economy at multiple geographic and economic scales impact long-standing ‘informal’ practices of waste recovery and recycling in Hanoi, Vietnam. This research is based on a survey of 575 informal waste collectors and 264 waste intermediaries as well as 73 in-depth interviews. Paper I engages in a critique of methodological disclosure in current academic writings on informal waste-recovery activities and discusses the methodological difficulties of researching informal populations. My aim in this paper is to highlight that the lack of methodological disclosure in waste-recovery literature is problematic because it compromises the academic rigour of this field and impedes the reliability of researchers’ policy recommendations as well as to initiate a dialogue with the aim of improving methodological rigour in waste-recovery literature. Paper II examines urbanization processes in contemporary Vietnam and how these changing spaces accommodate labour, and in turn support livelihoods. I argue that Vietnam’s globalizing economy and urban transition have been a catalyst for the growth of the informal waste collector population in Hanoi, as well as a partial player in the gendering of the industry. Paper III explores how one particular segment of the informal waste-recovery trade, waste intermediaries, is impacted by Hanoi’s rapid urban change. I demonstrate in this paper that 1) waste intermediaries simultaneously gain and lose as a result of Hanoi’s urban transition; and 2) the underlying forces of urban spatial change in different areas of the city are quite distinct, which will have an impact on the future of waste-recovery in Hanoi. The key findings of this dissertation are: 1)A more thorough engagement with methods and a broader approach to understanding waste-recovery actors (through an engagement with political economy at multiple geographic and economic scales) will produce a more context-appropriate and compassionate understanding of this group of urban actors. 2)The livelihoods of informal waste-recovery workers are both directly and indirectly impacted by shifts in political economy, albeit in Hanoi these impacts (both positive and negative) vary by sex and sub-occupation (with respect to waste collectors), and scale of business and location in the city (with respect to waste intermediaries).
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16767
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Geography - Doctoral theses

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