Most electric and electronic products of the 21st century have a negative environmental impact during production, use phase and at end-of-life. The current trend is that the use phase of electric products stagnates or shortens continuously – despite of constant technological progress – while the number of products per person is growing. This leads to a fast growth of e-waste. A longer use phase can increase the resource efficiency and reduce the environmental impacts of electronics significantly. A great deal of discussion revolves around the so-called “obsolescence”, a shortage of product lifetimes or serviceable life for functional, qualitative or socio-cultural reasons. Research on these phenomena often focuses either producers or consumers and overemphasizes the role of cognitive aspects and decision making. It still lacks an integrative framework that reconstructs how obsolescence is inscribed into the material culture of modern societies and the interaction of economic paradigms, production and consumption practices and political frameworks.
The five-year interdisciplinary research group aims to investigate the multiple and interacting causes for shortened product lifetimes and to develop an integrative concept to explain the societal production of obsolescence in electronics. Perspectives from engineering, economic science and sociology will be combined to explain obsolescence in its various forms and to develop strategies to enlarge use phases and reduce the amount of products consumed.
Who we are
The group members represent complementary disciplines (economics, engineering, law, sociology, psychology and sustainability sciences). The team consists of:
Dr. Melanie Jaeger-Erben, Sociology and Psychology,,
Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft, TU Berlin (Co-leader)
Dr. Janis Winzer, Economical Enginering, Fraunhofer IZM (Co-leader)
Dr. Max Marwede, Econo-physics, Department of Nano Interconnect Technologies TU Berlin (PostDoc)
Tamina Hipp, Sociology, Zentrum Technik und Gesellschaft, TU Berlin (PhD candidate)
Marina Proske, Envirionmental Engineering, Department of Nano Interconnect Technologies TU Berlin (PhD candidate)
Eduard Wagner, Industrial Engineering, Department of Nano Interconnect Technologies TU Berlin (PhD candidate)
Florian Hofmann, Sustainability Sciences, Fraunhofer IZM and TU Berlin (PhD candidate)
Christian Dickenhorst, Law, Leuphana Universität, Lüneburg (PhD candidate)