Accepted Paper:

Agroecological transitions: contestations of the regime of techno-scientific promises?  


Sarah Lumbroso (INRA- Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)
Jessica Thomas (INRA- Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

Paper short abstract:

We show how transitions towards sustainable agro-food systems imply the building of various promises, through articulations with the dominant regime of techno-scientific promises (hybridization, confrontation, integration), opening up or closing down opportunities for transformative change.

Paper long abstract:

Our paper studies how transitions towards agroecology can contest the regime of techno-scientific promises. Originally, agroecology is a radical transformation of agricultural practices to improve the resilience of food systems. Transitions towards this objective challenge the dominant agro-food system, which is supported by the regime of techno-scientific promises.

Diverging from a top-down vision of agriculture development relying on technological improvements, agroecology intends to open the process of knowledge production. Indeed it relies on knowledge co-construction integrating local experiences to contextualise innovation. Therefore AE needs to develop alternative types and forms of promises, to face the dominant techno-scientific ones.

We study the building processes of promises around agroecological transitions. Our analysis considers the content of those promises, their material basis, and spaces where they circulate. We rely on a comparative analysis of case studies of spaces where agroecological promises are built (e.g. foresight studies on food systems, the French Government agroecological project, farmers initiatives…). We identify how various promises open up or close down opportunities for transformative change. Power asymmetries structuring the agro-food system persist and shape the confrontation between promises. There are processes of mutual integration between agroecological promises and the regime of techno-scientific promises, leading either to a reinforcement of the dominant regime or to its adaptation. Hybridizations, integrations and conflicts between promises shape choices for agricultural research and development with societal implications.

Panel T094
Emerging science and technology : questioning the regime of promising