Dumpster Diving for a Better World

Explaining Unconventional Protest and Public Support for Actions against Food Waste

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Department of Agricultural and Food Marketing, University of Kassel, Germany jahnke@uni-kassel.de
  • | 2 Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK ulf.liebe@warwick.ac.uk
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Abstract

Food waste is a major challenge in affluent societies around the globe. Based on theories of protest and a mixed methods design combining qualitative, experimental, and survey research, we study the motives for, frequency of, and public support for dumpster diving in Germany. We find that dumpster diving as an unconventional daily protest action is related to more general protest against capitalist societies. It is motivated by both altruistic and egoistic concerns. The perceived legitimacy of violence and self-identity explain the frequency of dumpster diving. A factorial survey experiment with activists and the general public reveals strong similarities between the views of activists and those of other citizens in strong support of dumpster diving. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining different empirical methods to study food activism.

Contributor Notes

Benedikt Jahnke is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Agricultural and Food Marketing at the University of Kassel. He studied agriculture at the University of Kassel and at the University of Göttingen and did his PhD at the Department of Sociology at the University of Bern. His research interests include food waste, food movements, sustainable consumption, agricultural sociology, and mixed methods. Email: jahnke@uni-kassel.de

Ulf Liebe is Professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick. His research interests include environmental behavior, sustainability, discrimination, and multifactorial survey experiments. Email: ulf.liebe@warwick.ac.uk

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