1. 8. 2022

‘This is not a Sin: Moral and Ethical Contradictions in E-waste Management’ presentation at EASA 2022 in Belfast

Barbora presented a paper at the panel ‘The Local Lives of Moral Concepts. Ethnographic Explorations of the Everyday Shaping of Morality and Ethics I’ organised by Luigigiovani Quarta and Lorenzo Urbano at EASA on July 28, 2022 in Belfast.   


This is not a Sin: Moral and Ethical Contradictions in E-waste Management

Barbora Stehlíková

Working in an e-waste (electronic and electrical waste) processing company involves handling the things that may be of various value and raise various interests. When disassembling electronics, some good-looking devices are tested by workers to see if they are functional. The functional devices are then appropriated by a testing worker, offered to somebody else or used in a workshop. This activity is carried out in secret, hidden from the eyes of management, and provokes moral and ethical questions. These questions are particularly urgent in the presence of a researcher whose position and commitment are indeterminant (Alexander and Sanchez 2019). In e-waste management, several actors are involved and have different obligations towards each other. Based on the ethnographic research at an e-waste processing company and a company operating in a compliance take-back scheme in Czechia, I reflect on my position within the bundle of relations and my influence on the translation of various moral and ethical concerns. Using the concept of moral and ethical assemblages (Zigon 2010), I perceive the situation of e-waste management as being composed of different layers of moral and ethical beliefs. The researcher then contributes to the awareness and transcendence of these beliefs. I show how moral and ethical negotiations occur in specific relations and interactions.