"The Socialocene: From Capitalocene to Transnational Waste Regimes" by Zsuzsa Gille

Dr. Zsuzsa Gille

Dr. Zsuzsa Gille is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois, at Urbana Champaign. Recently, Dr. Gille had an article published titled "The Socialocene: From Capitalocene to Transnational Waste Regimes", to read the full article, click here


In this article I will present a relational, and multiscalar, perspective on how state socialism interacted with and shaped the Capitalocene. I introduce a heuristic device, the term Socialocene, a transnational waste regime dominant through the Cold War-era, that is, during what Will Steffen and colleagues call “the great acceleration”. When extending the concept of waste beyond contamination to include squandered resources, the Socialocene emerges as a transnational waste regime in which the modes of waste generation of Western capitalism and central planning are mutually determining. One key relation is the effect of communism on mass consumption and throwaway society in the West; the other is the use of centrally planned economies as “cheap nature”, in Jason Moore’s sense. I will demonstrate the latter through several empirical examples and, in greater detail, through a case study of an Austrian chemical company outsourcing a toxic-waste-intensive product to a Hungarian chemical company in the 1960s.