Accepted Paper:

Grassroots as bottom-up responsible innovation: the case of food common puchasing groups   


Sergio Belda Miquel (Universitat Politècnica de València)
Alejandra Boni (Ingenio (CSIC-UPV))
Barbara Ribeiro (University of Nottingham)
David Barbera-Tomas (Universidad Politécnica de Valencia)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explore the experience of food common purchasing groups in the city of Valencia (Spain). It conceptualizes them as grassroots processes of responsible innovation, thus exploring its contribution to more sustainable food systems through citizen action driven and by values.

Paper long abstract:

The paper approaches the experience of food common purchasing groups in the city of Valencia (Spain). To analyse the potential and contributions of the initiatives as more sustainable alternative food networks, the paper departs from the idea that they can be conceptualized as grassroots processes were responsible innovation (RI) takes place. This is why be depart from key dimensions of RI, namely public participation, reflection on values and responsiveness toward society, to explore the contributions of these gropus for sustainability. These are longstanding dimensions which have been of interest to STS, but which only start to be explored in the case of grassroots movements.

Based on the results of a process of participatory action research, interviews and etnographic work, we look at the fuctioning and structural aspects of these common purchasing groups to understand key conditions for the development of more sustainable food systems: social inclusion, careful and transparent deliberation, and capacity to produce change. We argue that the concept of RI, which mobilises people and resources around research on food systems, is generally attached to narratives of top-down technological innovation and development of emerging technologies, rather than those of social innovation through bottom-up movements. Yet, our case study demonstrate that, through community action, grassroots movement movements have the potential to address the main objective of RI through bottom-up innovation, that of aligning innovation with societal needs within a paradigm of environmental and social sustainability. Common purchasing groups would be addressing this end in the case of agrofood systems.

Panel T092
Transition to Sustainable Food Systems: Integrative Perspectives on Production and Consumption