University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 24.3.2018 Moving Forward Sustainability: Material and Social Con­ditions of Electronic Waste Management in Nigeria (Omo­karo)

Start date: Mar 24, 2018 12:00 PM

End date: Mar 24, 2018 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, C4

M.Soc.Sc. Benedicta Omo­karo defends her doctoral dissertation in Social and Public Policy "Moving Forward Sustainability: Material and Social Con­ditions of Electronic Waste Management in Nigeria". Opponent Senior Lecturer Jennie Olofsson (University of Ljubljana and University of Mid Sweden) and Custos Academy Researcher Sakari Taipale (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in English.

This dissertation focuses on understanding the social material interaction between e-waste and e-scrappers for sustainable management of e-waste. Previous studies mainly concentrate on the detrimental environmental impact of e-scrappers activities, the economic and political influences of e-waste on the e-scrappers, the material flow of e-waste and the exportation of valuable e-waste extracts from highly industrialized countries to less industrialized countries.

The aim of the dissertation is therefore to extend the scope of the previous studies by investigating the social material interaction between e-scrappers and e-waste. To achieve this aim, this study examines the following research questions: 1) How has e-waste gained recognition and remained relevant in both government and private spheres? 2) Through what material and social mechanisms has e-scrappers thrived despite the negative environmental perception of their activities? Environmental perception, as used in this dissertation, indicates the perceived impacts of the activities of e-scrappers on their environment.

Qualitative data sets attained via ethnographic video method from 29 e-scrappers from two states in Nigeria are analyzed and used to meet the main objective of this dissertation. This dissertation consists of a summary and results presented in four separate articles. The results reveal that far from the notion that e-scrapping is carried out by illiterate, poor marginalized groups, e-scrappers in Nigeria possess a certain level of formal institutional education and professionalism that becomes evident during the e-scrapping process. Additionally, the informal learning and organization achieved via models such as the apprenticeship system provide social recognition among members of society and relevant government institutions.

It therefore implies that Nigerian e-scrappers possess a level of intellectual engagement that could be recognized and actively utilized by local environmental agencies and other government institutions. The main policy implication of this dissertation is that in order to move forward sustainably in the management of e-waste in Nigeria, organized activities of e-scrappers ought to be seen as formal activities. As such, standardization of proper basic infrastructure that limits negative environmental pollution and promotes acquired recycling skills should be engrained in environmental policies and provided for the e-scrappers.

The dissertation is published in the series Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research, number 608, 73 p., Jyväskylä 2018, ISSN 0075-4625; 608, ISBN 978-951-39-7353-7. It is available at the University Library’s Publications Unit, tel. +358 (0)40 805 3825,

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Azewanre Benedicta Omokaro
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