Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Katherine Hankins

Second Advisor

Ellis Adams

Third Advisor

Jean-Paul Addie


This research examines the informal waste sector in a Minority World context through interviews with informal waste workers, city officials, and material buyers in metropolitan Atlanta. Globally, the informal waste sector is often unacknowledged or explicitly excluded by the jurisdictions in which they operate, and those working in the informal waste sector experience significant vulnerabilities. The empirical findings of this research expose the similarities of the informal waste sector in the Minority World (countries with a disproportionate share of political and economic power) to that of the Majority World (countries historically victimized by colonialism and imperialism, and most recently, capitalism), where the work is precarious and the workers are often vulnerable to economic and political pressures. I also found that the informal metal-recycling sector in metropolitan Atlanta is unacknowledged by the city officials and, in some cases, the sector is criminalized.

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