Negotiating attachments to plastic
Social Studies of Science
Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in the office and warehouse of an organic wholesaler in Germany, this article presents a trans-sequential analysis of an innovation that aimed to reduce the use of plastic wrap. During the analytical reconstruction of the innovation process, the substitution of plastic wrap turned out to be a precarious process of negotiating attachments to plastic. Against this background, innovation is not simply about the implementation and substitution of
... by human actors, but about negotiating attachments that humans have towards objects within socio-technical assemblages. Drawing on actor-network theory and the sociology of attachment, the article highlights the dynamic interplay between persistence and problematization of plastic wrap, which characterizes the innovation process. This interplay is seen along several steps during the innovation process: from (1) the problematization of plastic dependency to (2) the mobilization of alternatives, to (3) resistance against measures to be implemented and (4) the enforcement of reusable strings as technological substitution and (5) to conclusive retrospection on the innovation process. The trans-sequential analysis shows that 'getting rid of something' might be an imperfect approach to dealing with unsustainable object relations. Instead, withdrawing is a double-sided process of detaching and attaching, removing constraints and building new ones.