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Disposal and consumption: visual participatory narratives of children and adolescents living in Jardim Gramacho

Descarte e consumo: narrativas participativas visuais de crianças e adolescentes residentes no Jardim Gramacho
Daniel Meirinho
Tradução de Lilian Ferrarin Zibemberg
p. 39-54
Este artigo é uma tradução do:
Descarte e consumo: narrativas participativas visuais de crianças e adolescentes residentes no Jardim Gramacho [pt]


O artigo convida-nos a refletir sobre o modo como um grupo de 16 crianças e jovens, de quatro a 15 anos, moradores do antigo aterro sanitário do Jardim Gramacho, no Rio de Janeiro, atua como agentes narradores das suas próprias histórias. A partir da análise das fotografias produzidas pelo grupo de participantes, o trabalho propõe-se perceber como representam visualmente as práticas sociais de consumo contemporâneo e o ambiente de descarte em que vivem. A fotografia participativa é a ferramenta de construção e reflexão crítica de significados que possibilita uma percepção crítica em torno do consumo, mas não da aquisição de bens como brinquedos, ambientes de brincadeiras e outros objetos através do método photovoice. A pesquisa se integra ao projeto de intervenção social “Olhares do Gramacho” que desenvolveu em novembro de 2018 um conjunto de oficinas e culminou numa exposição fotográfica no fim da ação.

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DOI: 10.17231/comsoc.37(2020).2388
Submitted: 18/12/2019 - Accepted: 19/04/2020

Texto integral


1Since its invention to its extended accessibility, photography has been popularly referred to and sometimes noticed as a window that sees the world as it shows itself and other times as a mirror that reflects a reality (Barthes, 1984; Baudrillard, 1995; Sontag, 1986). Many debates approach its veracity, being photography understood as a modern format of framing the various perceptions of the real world (Baudrillard, 1995). However, this “production of reality” creates a universe of simulations from visual experiences of non-hegemonic peripheral contexts that reproduces narratives and representations from their cultural, economic and social repertoires.

2Photography becomes a benchmark over the years, at times full of stereotypes that activate crystallized memories from the foreign look that locates and puts a spotlight on what should make part of the agenda of global and local preoccupations. To Mark Sealy (2019), photography became a benchmark of how a few cultures see the “others”, in a work of filing of the cultural memory, which many times plays a role of violent ideological representation of some people and social groups. These images are full of stereotypes that activate crystallized memories in a relation of power between “observer and the observed” that locates and puts a spotlight on those that should make part of the agenda of global preoccupations, while at the same time projects “an inferior or demeaning image on another that distorts and oppress to the extent that the image is interiorized” (Taylor, 1994, p.36).

3We based this article in the following central question: how a group of children and adolescents, living in an old landfill of Rio de Janeiro, reflects from their photographs the consumption in the perspective of disposal and not acquisition of objects and goods? The proposal is based in a participatory investigation-action and of social intervention called “Olhares do Gramacho” (Gramacho Views), that used the photographic image as a tool for meetings and talks with a group of 16 children and adolescents, aged between four and 15 years. All the participants were resident of the community Quatro Rodas, inserted where the largest “dump” of Latin America was previously located for almost 40 years: the Metropolitan Landfill of Jardim Gramacho (AMJG), in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

4For six days, in November 2018, this group of children and adolescents acted as narrator agents of their own realities, being the photographs produced by the participants a tool of critical thinking on the contemporary culture of the social and human disposal and a deteriorated identity through the participatory visual methodology photovoice (Wang & Burris, 1997). The proposal of a methodology that takes children and adolescents as research subjects presents a model not so common for studying childhood, especially in the communication in which photography is seen as a communication and expression technology. The method photovoice (Wang & Burris, 1997) inserts in the investigation process community and participation-based activities that promotes visual skills of identification, representation and talk related to specific themes with the social group, through photographic representations.

5This article questions how the image can be a reference of collective reflective actions for a group of children and adolescents, from the production of this visuality on their perspectives and personal experiences with the disposal and consumption issues (Marshall & Shepard, 2006). And also how children and adolescents living in a landfill area can contribute actively for a disharmonic imagery representation and contrary to what is showed by the media about garbage debate. If Bauman (2005) argues that “the survival of the form of modern life depends on the ability and proficiency in garbage removal” (p. 39), the reintroduction of consumption goods and disposal culture products are noticed by children and adolescents through an exclusion and inclusion logic. At the same time, this social group is a powerful media and advertising mechanism of the consumption system (Souza, 2016). The appropriation of material goods can be noticed by a cycle of reuse of things and not by the obsolescence rules that cause obsessive behaviors of buying new objects, of the consumer society.

6The photographic image was the tool that allowed for debates to be conducted on the interests and regimens of visibility of the group of children and adolescents participating on the theme about consumption and contemporary disposal, as they live in an environment that receives all the solid waste and recyclable trash of one of the most populated metropolitan areas in Brazil. Digital photographic cameras were used by this group of children and adolescents for one week. The aim was to see how the records and visual representations of what they understand as garbage and disposal are contrary or similar to the media representation of the space where they live and how the adjustments and complex issues of living with the garbage and illicit disposal of products and objects are.

7The project “Olhares do Gramacho” had in its six days of workshops the production of 3.912 photographs, taken by the 16 children and adolescents residing in the community Quatro Rodas, of Jardim Gramacho. The images portrays, in addition to the theme of disposal, the relationships between the participants, their families and the community, with many images of collective spaces (streets, water treatment plant, football pitches), private environments (residents and waste pickers associations), people from the neighborhood and affective relationships with their friends and pets, as well as objects and trash. There was a large percentage of images of flowers from the personal “gardens” of the houses and organizations, with a clear allusion to the neighborhood’s name. In this article, we analyze the images of disposed objects which are reused and the ludic spaces, both according to a logic of consumption (re)appropriation, based in the participants relationship as receptors of the deposits from a excesses society of the contemporary consumerism (Uglione, 2018) and their relationships of self-esteem and affection with these materials.

The participatory visual investigation with children and adolescents

8Due to the increasing focus on the rights of children and adolescents, the participation of children in studies of social questions has become a trend in the scope of the importance given to listening their perspectives and understand their life experiences. The interest for children and young people to participate in the investigation has been increasing every year and emphasizing the importance of hearing their perspectives and understand their lives and experiences (Clark, 2007; Green & Hogan, 2005; Sinclair, 2004). The academic interest for seeking the perspective of children in the investigation (Lewis & Lindsay, 2000), within the structure of rights of the child, starts to recognize the thoughts and experiences of children and adolescents as valuable.

9The United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, adopted by the UN General Assembly in November 20, 1989, stimulated even more the development of investigation strategies adjusted to the rights of the child (Lundy & McEvoy, 2012). The Convention establishes rights that must be achieved for children and adolescents to reach their full potential and requires that children-related policies and services meet their wide range of needs and capacities (Lundy & McEvoy, 2012). Thus, children starts to have the right of expressing their point of views in the processes of decision-making, according to the Article 12 that states:

Article 12. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. (Decree-Law No. 99.710)

10This space and right of participating actively of investigations related to subjects related to them reflects “on the space that children holds and how they enter in this dispute of senses” (Pereira, Gomes & Silva, 2018, p. 762). The right to participation established by the Convention changes the focus of conducting investigations on children to the focus on investigations with children. 

11The participatory investigation-action with children and young people applied in this article has a recent history and has been increasing in the last few years in different sociocultural settings from the so-called participatory investigation-action (Khanlou & Peter, 2005). This research movement challenges the surveillance and knowledge control system through the investigation: “the more the participants look for active control of the investigation agendas, the more powerful these agents establish” (Khanlou & Peter, 2005, p. 2339).

12When looking for visual perspectives of children and adolescents, the project “Olhares do Gramacho” recognizes that this is not a hegemonic group, but that everyone has its own set of characteristics and experiences, which makes them unique (Lewis & Lindsay, 2000).  The participatory visual methods were chosen in this investigation as a useful tool in the involvement of the group of children and adolescents of Jardim Gramacho, as an invitation that they record their daily lives in photographs. Photography would start to be discussed in a context of sharing critical narratives about the visibility regimens and disposal of objects in the place where they live (Wang & Burris, 1997). The photovoice method was the methodological approach that offered them the possibility of express themselves visually, using an active look to define issues that affect them (Lust, 2013; Woodlrych, 2004), critically reflecting in the voices and hegemonic representations that most of the times do not constitute their identities.

  • 1 The designation photovoice is understood as an acronym for voicing our individual and collective ex (...)

13Developed at the beginning of the 1970s by the professor and investigator of the Public Health School of the University of Michigan, Caroline Wang, and by the associated investigator of the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, Mary Ann Burris, the methodological approach photovoice1 intends to insert community-based activities in the investigation process in order to “identify, represent and strength the resources of their communities through photographic techniques and representations” (Wang & Burris, 1997, p. 369). Photography starts to be a support and work tool “that serves as an instrument to create relationships, inform and organize individuals of the community, allowing them to give priority to their preoccupations and discuss their problems and solutions collectively, through visual frameworks” (Wang & Burris, 1997, p. 370).

14In spite of the methodological proposition has been created in the field of studies of public and collective health, the method has been a tool acknowledged in investigations with children and adolescents (Ewald, 2001; Mcintyre & Thusi, 2003; Spielman, 2001; Meirinho, 2016; Wilson, Dasho, Martin, Wallerstein, Wang & Minkler, 2007). The participatory photography (Palibroda, Krieg, Murdock & Havelock, 2009) was a strategic and precious instrument due to the possibility of giving the children and adolescents of Jardim Gramacho the opportunity of discussing their community and habits by their visual representations. In this case, the visual method served to us as an attractive mean of involving actively the participants in the process of research, as well as analytical instrument.

Jardim Gramacho as setting of social investigative intervention

15Located at the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, for almost 40 years Jardim Gramacho housed the largest landfill of the Latin America (Cárcamo, De Oliveira & Da Cunha, 2018). Occupying an area of 1,3 million square meters (Bastos, 2007), it became known worldwide by the movie Estamira (Prado, 2005), the documentary Lixo extraordinário (Walker, Jardim & Harley, 2010), and also the movie Trash – a esperança vem do lixo (Daldry, 2014). These movies projected the district and the precarious human conditions in the so-called dumps. The landfill was opened by the end of the 1970s and was closed in June 2012, leaving more than one thousand families of former pickers, including children and adolescents living there. During 34 years of operation, it reached a volume of 8.000 tons of trash per day (IBASE – Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas, 2005), creating a “mountain” of solid waste that became higher than 40 meters.

16Jardim Gramacho is located in Guanabara’s Bay and makes part of the municipality of Duque de Caxias, which occupies an area of the metropolitan region of the State of Rio de Janeiro called Baixada Fluminense (lowlands). 18.951 inhabitants live in the district, distributed by 5.701 residences (Cárcamo, 2013). The district has an infrastructure with precarious housing and problems of sanitation, access to transportation, health, education and a good part of its economy is still focused on the activity of picking, selling and recovery of recyclable materials, in which many children are inserted. The district suffers with serious structural problems, such as dirt and foul odor. As almost all the peripheral communities in Rio de Janeiro, the community is stricken by the violence and lack of security caused by drug trafficking. There is a high incidence of chemical dependency of youngsters and adults.

17The Quatro Rodas community occupies the area closest to the ramp (a place where the trucks dumped the materials and waste when it was a sanitary landfill) of the deposit of the Metropolitan Landfill of Jardim Gramacho, where large amounts of garbage still remain and now are deposited illegally. It is estimated that there are 100 houses build, most of them with materials such as wood, tin, paperboard, and some of them in masonry, but without drinking water and sewage networks. The garbage occupies almost all the spaces of the community like a blanket in the streets, piled as recyclables in the corners of the houses and stuffed in bags in the short walls.

18The closing of the sanitary landfill, in 2012, increased the social segregation and affected directly the work and income generation of the families that started to be totally dependent of social assistance programs such as “Bolsa família”, or even illegal picking activities. The participation in this social program is low due to the “minimal requirements of the program itself, which contrast with the reality of the neighborhood” (Uglione, 2018, p. 1603). The low number of children enrolled in schools and the high number of adults who do not has an identification document worsen the access to the government assistance programs. It is common to see many children in the streets, in the football pitch, next to the ramp or in the yard of the houses still exercising recyclable material picking activities.

The investigation program “Olhares do Gramacho”: a field report

19The social and research development platform “Eyes of the street”2 was created in 2015 aiming at developing playful and artistic workshops that use photography as element of visual literacy, especially with children and young people. The project is focused on the collaborative visual investigation-action by putting their participants as visual narrators of their own stories. The first edition of the project “Eyes of the street” was performed in May 2016 with children and young people of the peripheral districts of Arruda and Santo Amaro, in the city of Recife. In July 2016 the project developed participatory photography workshops with women and mothers, of Felupe ethnicity, from Suzana and Varela tabancas, in the Guinea-Bissau, with the support of the non-governmental organization Voluntariado Internacional para o Desenvolvimento Africano (International Volunteering for the African Development) (Meirinho & Januário, 2018) and that culminated in several photographic exhibitions in Guinea-Bissau, Portugal and Brazil.

20In 2017 the social platform “Eyes of the street” started the first contacts with the NPO Resgate da Infância Social (Rescue of Social Childhood)3, and the producer Mairarê4, to perform the project “Olhares do Gramacho”. The action was funded by a crowdfunding called “Photography for sustainable capacity building”. In 56 days of campaign by the digital platform Crowdfunder5 an amount of £2.590,00 (equivalent to R$ 11,500.00, at the time), donated by 34 stakeholders, most of them European and Brazilian. All the financial resource was applied in transportation logistics, remuneration of the production staff, social educators and young monitors living in Jardim Gramacho, as well as in the purchase of materials for the workshops and the exhibition. The 13 photographic cameras used were donated by stakeholders of the project, by mobilization actions on social media in the year of 2018.

21The workshops started on November 5, 2018 and were performed at the headquarters of Casa Amarela Humanitarian Association, which acts since 2005 in Jardim Gramacho. For six consecutive afternoons, the 16 children and adolescents, aged between 4 to 15 years, attended the project meetings that culminated in the photographic exhibition “Olhares do Gramacho”, on the Saturday, November 10.

22During these six days discussions and technical training in photography were introduced by playful dynamics. All the photographic excursions made by the Quatro Rodas community were made in partners, suggesting that they took pictures of the neighborhood’s living and what was very important for each one. By the end of each day, a time was taken to apply the step of the methodology photovoice (Wang & Burris), which consisted of projecting and discussing with the group the photographs produced (Palibroda et al., 2009). Questions such as affections, characters, community habits and practices, identification and self-representation, through selfies, spaces, playful territories and plays, and relations with the objects disposed or reused by the community. The consumption and disposal were theme of daily conversations with the participants, due to the importance they gave to their visual productions and the debates. This topic allowed us to raise questions and reflections with the group in relation to consumption, material waste and social and human disposal, as well as debates about the type of access to such goods, as receptors of the products discarded, for being residents of sanitary landfill area and sons and daughters of former waste pickers.

23To finish the project’s intervention, the choice of the photographs and mounting of a final exhibition in the outside wall of the Casa Amarela Humanitarian Association was conducted in the center of the Quatro Rodas community. Each child and adolescent choose two photos, which were printed in photographic paper and exhibited in a clothesline at the street.

Figure 1: Playful dynamics performed in the workshops of “Olhares do Gramacho” project

Figure 1: Playful dynamics performed in the workshops of “Olhares do Gramacho” project

Credits: Andressa Milanez

Figure 2: Children and young people in their first contact with the photography equipment used

Figure 2: Children and young people in their first contact with the photography equipment used

Credits: Andressa Milanez

Figure 3: Choice of the photos for exhibition

Figure 3: Choice of the photos for exhibition

Credits: Andressa Milanez

Figure 4: Final exhibition performed at the wall of Casa Amarela

Figure 4: Final exhibition performed at the wall of Casa Amarela

Credits: Andressa Milanez

Views on the disposal: the building of meanings given to the trash

24Several themes and photographs were produced by the children and young people during the project “Olhares do Gramacho”, which would give numerous approaches and analytical cuts for this investigation supported by the application of photovoice method (Ewald, 2001; Wilson et al., 2007). The theme chosen for this article goes through the frequency of talks with the participants during the workshops and also an everyday subject in the Quatro Rodas community: the relation of disposal of consumer goods found in the trash and dumped in Jardim Gramacho. Every day, through the photographic excursions by the community, we passed by heaps of garbage, found in the images produced by the cameras of the youngsters.

25The children and adolescents are recognized in several studies on consumption as key and active participants in the strategies of consumer good acquisition such as toys, technologies, clothes, among other objects that connects them to a symbolic status of style and belonging to the traditional consumption. Childhood can be noticed as more and more immerse in a society in which you are what you buy (Klein, 2001). Following Naomi Klein, other publications discuss a culture of child consumption and consider children in an essentially commercial world, thus being seen as premature, naive and defenseless consumers. We do not intend to enter into the debate that Buckingham (2012) raise about the strategies of marketing directed to a consumer child, or discuss the possibility that children are the active and competent subjects in the consumption that goes against the conception of innocent and powerless individuals.

26In Jardim Gramacho, the children and adolescents live the same models and contexts of consumption (Miller, 1995), which are different in the acquisition of goods and services and becomes “a practice in the world and the way we build the understand of ourselves in the world” (Miller, 1995, p. 30). The children presents clearly the worry of being inserted in the consumer culture when they show to know all the brands and products they are interested in, while many of the objects that they acquire come from the disposal and the act of “throwing away”, which puts them at the margin of the formal and traditional environment of consumption. For this group of children, toys, accessories, clothes and objects are once more configurated in the original situation of utilization, even that being things that the purchasing “society” wanted to get rid of and replace (Bauman, 2005).

27The young people participating in the project “Olhares do Gramacho” understand clearly the system of abundance and replacement of something that is no longer useful, is old or damaged by the need of something new for the consumers with economic access. Their photographs of objects disposed deflagrate the awareness that the access to the goods comes from their coexistence with the garbage and they describe very properly and spontaneously that they feel like human receptables of all the things that no longer serves to be used by those who are outside the community, in the urban centers of the city of Rio de Janeiro, in their complex system of inequality.

28Most of the participants in the project rarely exits from the community context, and only get in contact with other realities or individuals when they go to the school or the downtown of Duque de Caxias, following the same metaphor of the territorial prototype of the excluded ones. These are the moments when they get in contact and start to be affected and impacted by the same symbolic meanings, cultural structure and consumer codes, whether in the family talks, school environments or of contact with the media products, especially from the TV, because the access to the internet and technology is still very restrict.

29The children and adolescents are aware that they are a repository of disposal of everything that becomes obsolete for the consumer culture, ensuring the perception that they are out of a place of privilege of acquiring goods, where most of the population wants to be. The garbage represents the place of human rejection and objects that reflects directly in the low self-esteem, associated to the poverty and exclusion. They meet and recognize themselves based on what Goffman (1988) understands as deteriorated social identity of stigmatized individuals, who are seen as weird. Of people caused to feel inferior, engaged in the logic of waste consumption.

  • 6 In this article we used pseudonyms for all the participants for confidentiality and with the aim of (...)

30Even with several problems of sanitation, the playful consumption of playing in childhood is represented in the photographs in a precarious and inhospitable environment, with the existence of diseases caused by the trash deposited in the site for more than 30 years. Such perspective of consumption can be seen in the Figure 5 of the adolescent Cassiane6, 12 years old, which photographed adolescents taking bath and jumping in the pound of treatment of the old sanitary landfill. Their playful spaces of plays and games are full of garbage and human waste and the plays happen by seeing the children barefoot running around toxic substances and a blanket of garbage that covers the streets. The risk of contamination by intestinal infections is very recurrent between the children and residents of the Quatro Rodas community.

Figure 5: Photograph of Cassiane (12 years old)

Figure 5: Photograph of Cassiane (12 years old)

Credits: Cassiane

31The theme of the toy and its symbolic representation for the childhood and adolescence was another matter highlighted in the photographs produced by the participants. We can start from the perspective that the toys in general are objects of the child universe that gives life by playing, to the ludic (Brougére, 2008). We can see that by the toy the child appropriates from the real world, relates and integrates culturally, being a very valuable object in childhood, inside the world of goods (Douglas & Isherwood, 2013). However, the toys in Gramacho are not configured only by the representation of the fable or fantasy associated to pets, famous characters, cartoons or super-heroes. The imaginary situation in which the child assumes roles and represents behaviors is for the group of youngsters of Jardim Gramacho through the damaged toys. This argument can be seen in Figure 6, of the adolescent Cassio, 12 years old, who photographed a doll buried in the street, with only the head outside.

Figure 6: Photograph of Cassio (12 years old)

Figure 6: Photograph of Cassio (12 years old)

Credits: Cassio

32Playing with disposed dolls and damaged toys is common there. Thinking about the possession of goods removed from the trash is that there is a chance of possessing a given object, as in some cases, such as toys, are seen as prestigious symbols (Goffman, 1988). To Brougére (2008), among the social functions of the toys we can highlight the support of affective relationship. In other words, to possessing it includes a prestigious value that gradually is being built from the convergence between the image bearing symbolic values and social significance and the social function of the toy. The reaction of specificity with the toy for the children of Jardim Gramacho remains in the experience of possession, inserting the child in the universe of consumption, but in the recycled way in relation to the use of such objects. The children give meanings to the discarded toys, gaining new logical relationships in which they become a loyal mirror, not of the reality outside, but of the cultural and symbolic reality of the community, in connection with all the culture of consumption and media that the children start having access to. To see how these toys are reappropriated and discarded in the street, sometimes without so much attachment, is to face the image and the cultural world of this group of children and adolescents.

33Many youngsters, when seeing the images of the objects that were thrown away and reused in their photographs, said that having toys, furniture, clothes and accessories taken from the trash was always common for them, being reused without questioning the dignity of the access to such goods. Such possession denotes more than simple objects: represents a social code of inclusion in an inverted society of consumption. At the same time they receive the discarded products routinely, the children and adolescents are inserted in the system of consumption in which the childhood is a powerful target of the media gear of consumption (Souza, 2016), when they recognize these objects from their brands and associations to advertising.

34Finally, the last theme of analysis in this article is related to the images produced by the participants of the utensils used at home and its extension to the street as different codes of significance. Many objects composing the house filling such as appliances, furniture and electronic devices that are obsolete and forgotten are presented in the street environment as an extension of the house and represent the disposal environment of Jardim Gramacho, as can be seen in Figure 7. The photograph of the couch in the street, taken by the adolescent Anderson (14 years old), represents the object as a relic kept by a family, which started to be of collective use, but inserted in a new order and a new meaning as part of the street’s collection. The consumption ritual of goods in a house, as well as the tidiness and organization of its good, follows the same logic of the disposal. Many objects enter in the home and the residents start to have a bookcase to keep it as decorative prize found in the trash that gain a new life by ornamenting the household space. Even having lost their functionality, in some cases other uses are given in a new esthetic and decorative arrangement, instead of its functionality.

Figure 7: Photograph of Anderson (14 years old)

Figure 7: Photograph of Anderson (14 years old)

Credits: Anderson

35The attachment to material goods by the children and adolescents is related to the importance that these objects have inside an external consumption code, or in the conditions of some objects, in a wicked fable where everything can be found, but is already damaged. As the contemporary consumption model is focused on the immediate devaluation of old objects, it generates a dissatisfaction with the identity acquired in this culture. The importance is in the consumption object itself and in the significance system attributed by the children and adolescents to the social and cultural relations and not in the acquisition of values (Douglas & Isherwood, 2013).

36The analytical cut shows that social hierarchy is not resultant from the economic value of the consumer goods, but from the meanings of possession in a type of “collective agreement” of representations. In Jardim Gramacho the objects receive a new meaning in a chain of value that usually attributes importance to things that can generate profit. On this view, even the garbage can be transformed in financial value, due to the possibility of renewal of the raw material through recycling.

Final considerations

37This article is based on an analysis cut of a visual investigation-action project intended to conduct a social mobilization for a community development, focused on the childhood and adolescence, applying the concepts and strategies of photovoice method (Wang & Burris, 1997). The photographic image was designed and used as a tool of documentation and social mobilization at the same time that presented visual reports and discussions with the researched group from the cut around the logic of consumption and the relationships with the garbage and the contemporary disposal environment (Uglione, 2018). Photography showed to be a highly flexible methodological tool that allowed us to cross barriers of significance and representation. The image assumed in this investigation a role of a catalyst of talks and reflections on the concerns of this group of children and adolescents, supporting an analytical process of preoccupations about children living in dumps and their childhood context from antagonistic and excluding poles that places them as protagonists of this research.

38We can see by this cut of images analyzed that childhood transcends the potential of the society of protecting children and adolescents inside and outside the dumps. It is a complex and embarrassing context to be seen and analyzed, especially by the strangeness it evokes and causes on this new esthetics of representation by those living in this environment.

39The paper presents the understanding about the consumption of disposable objects for children and adolescents, and goes through a process of objectification. It should be understood through the dialectic of inequality of acquisition and access consistent with the cultural contradictions in which they are inserted. We agree with the argument of Douglas and Isherwood (2013), who understand consumption as a communicative process of affirmation of values, practices and social rituals, serving as forms of inclusion and exclusion of children in the social circles. Apart from the utility values, the goods disposed and found in the trash make part of the constitution of social relationships and identities, of belonging to or distancing from the consumer society. They are out of the daily activity of consuming, which excludes them from the process of identity significance of social participation.

40Inserting children and adolescents in the universe of consumption represents a childhood that lives with goods discarded in the trash, from the income generated by materials accumulated in debris in the yards of the houses by the families, as income generation, or even as a priority social group receptor of the donations of entities and people that goes to the site and deliver what they no longer use or need to put in the “trash”, activating a new cycle of consumption called sustainability or attitudes of compassion and sympathy with the social groups most in need.

This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) – Finance Code 001.

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1 The designation photovoice is understood as an acronym for voicing our individual and collective experience.

2 Further information can be found at

3 Further information can be found at

4 Further information can be found at

5 Further information can be found at

6 In this article we used pseudonyms for all the participants for confidentiality and with the aim of protecting their privacy (Marshall & Shepard, 2006).

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Índice das ilustrações

Título Figure 1: Playful dynamics performed in the workshops of “Olhares do Gramacho” project
Créditos Credits: Andressa Milanez
Ficheiro image/png, 96k
Título Figure 2: Children and young people in their first contact with the photography equipment used
Créditos Credits: Andressa Milanez
Ficheiro image/png, 72k
Título Figure 3: Choice of the photos for exhibition
Créditos Credits: Andressa Milanez
Ficheiro image/png, 108k
Título Figure 4: Final exhibition performed at the wall of Casa Amarela
Créditos Credits: Andressa Milanez
Ficheiro image/png, 97k
Título Figure 5: Photograph of Cassiane (12 years old)
Créditos Credits: Cassiane
Ficheiro image/png, 219k
Título Figure 6: Photograph of Cassio (12 years old)
Créditos Credits: Cassio
Ficheiro image/png, 374k
Título Figure 7: Photograph of Anderson (14 years old)
Créditos Credits: Anderson
Ficheiro image/png, 390k
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Para citar este artigo

Referência do documento impresso

Daniel Meirinho, «Disposal and consumption: visual participatory narratives of children and adolescents living in Jardim Gramacho»Comunicação e sociedade, 37 | 2020, 39-54.

Referência eletrónica

Daniel Meirinho, «Disposal and consumption: visual participatory narratives of children and adolescents living in Jardim Gramacho»Comunicação e sociedade [Online], 37 | 2020, posto online no dia 29 junho 2020, consultado o 18 julho 2024. URL:

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Daniel Meirinho

PhD in Communication Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, NOVA University, professor in the Department of Social Communication of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Brazil, and professor and researcher of Media Studies Post Graduation Programme (PPgEM/UFRN).
Email: danielmeirinho[at]
Address: Rua Correa Dutra, 128 - Apt. 204, Catete, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, Brasil CEP 22210-050

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Direitos de autor


Apenas o texto pode ser utilizado sob licença CC BY-NC 4.0. Outros elementos (ilustrações, anexos importados) são "Todos os direitos reservados", à exceção de indicação em contrário.

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