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Debarati Sen and Sarasij Majumder

The global circulation of food and agricultural commodities is increasingly influenced by the ethical choices of Western consumers and activists who want to see a socially and environmentally sustainable trade regime in place. These desires have culminated in the formation of an elaborate system of rules, which govern the physical and social conditions of food production and circulation, reflected in transnational ethical regimes such as fair trade. Fair trade operates through certifying producer communities with sustainable production methods and socially just production relationships. By examining interdisciplinary academic engagements with fair trade, we argue that fair trade certification is a transnational bio-political regime; although, it holds the potential for reflecting global counterpolitics. By reviewing the literature on the emergence and history of fair trade certification, agro-food chains, case studies on certified producer communities and the certification process, this article shows that fair trade certification is a new governing mechanism to discipline farmers and producers in the Global South by drawing them into globalized market relationships. However, recent studies suggest that fair trade also leaves open the potential for creative iterations of the fair trade idea in producer communities to give voice to their situated struggles for justice. Thus, fair trade constitutes a contested moral terrain that mediates between the visions of justice harbored by producers and activists in the Global South and reflexive practices of the Western consumers. To map these critical developments around fair trade and fair trade certification, close ethnographic attention to the material and symbolic life of certification is vital.

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Françoise Bartiaux and Luis Reátegui Salmón

Based on empirical data on “green” practices according to household size, this article questions the role, if any, given to close personal relationships by social practice theories in sustaining or not daily life practices. Data are mainly drawn from an Internet survey conducted in Belgium in 2006 by WWF-Belgium on daily practices, related to food, energy consumption, mobility, and tourism. Results show that smaller households carry out more numerous “green” practices than larger ones. The concluding discussion underlines the relevance of including social interactions—namely within the household—into the conceptual framework derived from the social theories of practices, to take into account the rearticulating role of social interactions and domestic power claims when carrying out a practice or a set of practices, and when changing it.

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Anna Henkel

This article starts with the observation that a sociological analysis of interactions concerning drugs cannot rely on accounts of drugs that were generated in the field because these accounts (such as the distinction between drugs and non-drugs or between intended effects and side effects) are shaped by strong interests. The article suggests two approaches to obtaining actor-independent accounts, both of which are based on comparisons. The first approach is a symmetrization of perspectives, which can be achieved by including the perspectives of as many different actors as possible as well as the abstract actors of science and law. The second approach starts from the definition of a problem that is contingent but grounded in practices of the field. In the case of drugs, this problem can be constructed as how laypersons can rate the identity and quality of specific things as unproblematic. In both cases, an ontological idea of the “drug as such” is replaced by a social-constructivist view of the drug, which at the same time takes the drug's materiality into account.

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Cristina Grasseni

This article presents qualitative and quantitative findings on provisioning activism in Italy, focusing on Solidarity Purchase Groups (Gruppi di Acquisto Solidale, GAS). By using quantitative data about GAS growth, numerical consistence and economic impact and through ethnographic insights based on prolonged fieldwork, it identifies the GAS movement as an ecological, economic and political counterculture. I discuss the implications for policy efforts at the regional and state level, highlighting both potentials and shortcomings of promoting GAS as means to sustainable development. In particular, I identify the issues of trust, informality and direct democracy as distinctive of GAS practice. However, this positions solidarity economy vis-à-vis policymaking in a potentially oppositional rather than interlocutory stance.

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Kosher Biotech

Between Religion, Regulation, and Globalization

Johan Fischer

as part of an ongoing research project that explores the interfaces between kosher (‘fit’ or ‘proper’) regulation, on the one hand, and highly industrialized and specialized (food) production, on the other. In recent years, the global market for

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From Biotech to Nanotech

Public Debates about Technological Modifi cation of Food

Jennifer B. Rogers-Brown, Christine Shearer, and Barbara Herr Harthorn

Technological modifications of food are being marketed as novel products that will enhance consumer choice and nutritional value. A recent manifestation is nanotechnology, entering the global food chain through food production, pesticides, vitamins, and food packaging. This article presents a detailed literature review on risk and benefit perceptions of technological developments for food and agriculture, including our own research from US deliberative workshops on nanotechnologies. The article suggests that many of the public concerns discussed in the literature on biotechnology in food are being raised in qualitative and quantitative studies on nanotechnologies for food: although nanotechnologies are generally perceived to be beneficial, many people express particular uneasiness about nanotechnological modifications of food. The article argues that these concerns represent material examples of unresolved social issues involving technologies and the food industry, including questions about the benefits of nanotechnology for food, and the heightened values attached to food as a cultural domain.

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Introduction

Civil Society and Urban Agriculture in Europe

Mary P. Corcoran and Joëlle Salomon Cavin

the modus operandi of civil society groups and actors who favor a more bottom-up style of action predicated upon the involvement of a range of actors who demonstrate high levels of motivation around sustainability and food security, and who engage in

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A Dignified Meal

Negotiated Spaces in India’s School Meal Program

Sony Pellissery, Sattwick Dey Biswas, and Biju Abraham

through the window. It is drizzling outside. He is perplexed at the thought of going out in the rain against his mother’s advice. But he has no option other than to stand in the queue, whether in the rain or under the hot sun, since the food is served in

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Calm Vessels

Cultural Expectations of Pregnant Women in Qatar

Susie Kilshaw, Daniel Miller, Halima Al Tamimi, Faten El-Taher, Mona Mohsen, Nadia Omar, Stella Major, and Kristina Sole

years old and pregnant for the second time) explained, a woman ‘gives birth to children and she builds the society’. Because of their importance, pregnant women are spoiled in Qatar: ‘Everything is different for her, her food for example; she is always

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The Incredible Edible Movement

People Power, Adaptation, and Challenges in Rennes (France) and Montreal (Canada)

Giulia Giacchè and Lya Porto

al. 2015 ) or collective ( McClintock 2014 ) gardens, as well as for guerrilla gardening initiatives ( Hodgson et al. 2011 ; McClintock 2014 ). Common characteristics of community or collective gardens are the medium or small scale of food or