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Article

Portrayals in Print: Media Depictions of the Informal Sector’s Involvement in Managing E-Waste in India

Independent Researcher, Washington, DC 20460, USA
The author is employed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460, USA. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 966; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040966
Received: 14 February 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2018 / Accepted: 20 March 2018 / Published: 26 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Waste, Space, and Place)
For over a decade, media stories have exposed health and environmental harm caused by informal electronics recycling in less industrialized countries. Greater awareness of these risks helped inform regulations across the globe and the development of recycling standards. Yet, media depictions also shape public perceptions of informal workers and their role in handling electronic waste, or e-waste. This paper examines how mainstream print media describes the informal sector’s involvement in handling e-waste in India, especially as policymakers and other stakeholders currently grapple with how to integrate informal workers into formal, more transparent e-waste management schemes. This study evaluates depictions of the informal sector in print articles from both non-Indian and Indian news media outlets, employing controversy mapping principles and digital research tools. Findings may help inform stakeholder agendas seeking to influence public awareness on how to integrate informal workers into viable e-waste management solutions. Subsequent research based on these results could also help stakeholders understand the actors and networks that shape such media depictions. Results from the dataset show that most news articles describe informal workers negatively or problematically due to activities causing health risks and environmental damage, but usually do not discern which activities in the value chain (e.g., collection, dismantling, metals extraction) represent the greatest risks. Comparatively fewer articles portray informal workers positively or as contributing to e-waste solutions. Most articles also do not explain challenges that arise when working with informal workers. As such, media depictions today often lag behind policy debates and obscure multiple facets—good and bad—of the informal sector’s involvement in managing e-waste. Thus, an opportunity exists for policymakers, manufacturers, and advocacy groups to bridge the gap between current media representations of informal workers’ involvement in e-waste management and policy recommendations surrounding their role. View Full-Text
Keywords: informal sector; e-waste management; India; news media; media depictions; recycling informal sector; e-waste management; India; news media; media depictions; recycling
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MDPI and ACS Style

Radulovic, V. Portrayals in Print: Media Depictions of the Informal Sector’s Involvement in Managing E-Waste in India. Sustainability 2018, 10, 966. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040966

AMA Style

Radulovic V. Portrayals in Print: Media Depictions of the Informal Sector’s Involvement in Managing E-Waste in India. Sustainability. 2018; 10(4):966. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040966

Chicago/Turabian Style

Radulovic, Verena. 2018. "Portrayals in Print: Media Depictions of the Informal Sector’s Involvement in Managing E-Waste in India" Sustainability 10, no. 4: 966. https://doi.org/10.3390/su10040966

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