Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Degree Type

Capstone Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies (BA)


Cultural Studies

First Advisor

Carmelo Esterrich

Second Advisor

Robert Watkins

Third Advisor

Steven Corey


Freeganism is a counter-culture practice, lifestyle, and philosophy that resists the waste and exploitation inherent to capitalism. By examining freegan practices and philosophies, specifically dumpster diving, this project reveals how these actions help make apparent and shift dominant ideologies about waste and consumption by re-injecting value into wasted items. The project argues that the waste that freegans live on has the semiotic power to shift dominant attitudes about waste and gives freegans the means to survive with limited participation in the economy, but this waste is a byproduct of capitalist production, not a cause of it. Freegans are conceptually paving the way for a post-capitalist way of living by eroding hegemonic notions of waste and profit, but they fail to target the root of capitalist production.