Author:Josephine Mylan (University of Manchester)
Paper short abstract:
This paper highlights the importance of existing arrangements, interests and technologies in processes of gradual re-configuration toward more sustainable food systems, explored through the case of meat production-consumption.
Paper long abstract:
Many innovations promising more sustainable food require changes across both 'production' and 'consumption'. This paper argues that a useful contribution to understanding this transformation can be made by attention to mechanisms which connect, translate or respond to changes across the production-consumption divide. Drawing on perspectives from economic sociology, innovation studies and STS, three analytical topics are proposed to analyses the reconfiguration of production-consumption systems. Each is illustrated with reference to meat - a topic which is rising up the agenda in debates on food sustainability. The first is the reproduction of 'qualities' of food by processes spanning firms, farms, NGOs, policymakers and consumers. The second is the framing of societal 'problems' - such as health, climate change and animal welfare and the interaction between these. The third concerns forms of 'service' embedded within a particular technologies of governance, such as prepared food, food labels or cookery books. The paper argues that the three topics (quality, problem, service) offer a means of uncovering mechanisms linking 'production' and 'consumption', and therefore key processes which reproduce ongoing dynamics within the food system, often in unsustainable directions (e.g. toward the 'meatification' of diet and agriculture). So, while many studies of transitions privilege the unfolding of the 'new' this paper highlights the importance of existing arrangements, interests and technologies in processes of gradual re-configuration toward more sustainable food systems.
Transition to Sustainable Food Systems: Integrative Perspectives on Production and Consumption