Most agree that we need to switch to a more circular economy, but what could this look like in practice? New research shows what the repair movement can do.

In a new study, Karin Bradley, researcher at KTH, and Ola Persson, doctoral student at KTH, explore who has the knowledge and tools to carry out repairs and thus has the power and right to repair. It is common for companies to be the ones that maintain and repair your gadgets. Agreements where service is included in the offer also occur and can be a way to increase repairs. At the same time, this locks the consumer into service agreements and subscriptions with increasing prices. It also limits the consumer in what they can do to repair and modify their own products.

Social functions
An alternative can be do-it-yourself repair shops such as “Fixoteken” in Gothenburg, a way to make repairs more accessible. These do not only contribute to increased reuse, but also have important social functions. The repair shops become social meeting places where people gather to share tools or exchange skills and knowledge.

Community repairs are all about mending broken gadgets instead of throwing them away, but also about bonding with others and doing something together.

A place where you’re not a consumer
– We thought that maybe there would be more political involvement around issues of ‘right-to-repair’ at the repair shops but that wasn’t really the case, Karin Bradley says. Rather, what was striking was how socially inclusive these places are and how they are important for building social communities where one is not addressed as a consumer.

The results of the study are particularly interesting for municipalities that want to find synergies between social inclusion and the circular economy, says Karin Bradley. They are also of interest to those who work with circular economy in business, politics or civil society.

Freja Handler

Read the whole study Community repair in the circular economy – fixing more than stuff here.

Karin Bradley,
Associate Professor, Department of Urban Planning and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
+46 879 085 91