Preprint Article Version 1 NOT YET PEER-REVIEWED

Food as Commons or Commodity? Exploring the Links between Normative Valuations and Agency in Food Transition

Version 1 : Received: 14 January 2017 / Approved: 16 January 2017 / Online: 16 January 2017 (04:17:20 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Vivero-Pol, J.L. Food as Commons or Commodity? Exploring the Links between Normative Valuations and Agency in Food Transition. Sustainability 2017, 9, 442. Vivero-Pol, J.L. Food as Commons or Commodity? Exploring the Links between Normative Valuations and Agency in Food Transition. Sustainability 2017, 9, 442.

Journal reference: Sustainability 2017, 9, 442
DOI: 10.3390/su9030442

Abstract

The food system, the most important driver of planetary transformation, is in a deep crisis. Therefore, seeking a sustainable and socially-fair transition pathway becomes an issue of utmost priority for our own survival. The consideration of food as a commodity, a social construct that played a central role in driving this crisis, remains the uncontested narrative to lead the different transition pathways what seems rather contradictory. By exploring the normative values in the transition landscape, this paper seeks to understand how relevant is the hegemonic narrative of “food as commodity” and its alternative of “food as commons” to determine transition trajectories and food policy beliefs. Applying the Multi-level Perspective framework and developing the ill-studied “agency in transition”, this research enquired food-related professionals that belong to an online community of practice (N=95) on valuation of food dimensions and agency in food transitions to check whether the valuation of food is relevant to explain personal stances in transition. Results suggest the socially-constructed view of food as commodity is positively correlated to the gradual reforming attitude, whereas food as commons is positively correlated to the counter-hegemonic transformers regardless the self-defined position in the transition landscape (regime or niches). At personal level, there are multiple loci of resistance with counter-hegemonic attitudes in varied institutions of the regime and the innovative niches, many of them holding this discourse of food as commons. Conversely, alter-hegemonic attitudes are not positively correlated to this alternative discourse and they may inadvertently or purportedly reinforce the ‘‘neoliberal narrative’’. Food as commons, a different narrative whose rationale is explained in the paper, seems to be a relevant framework that could enrich the multiple transformative constituencies that challenge the industrial food system and therefore facilitate the convergence of movements that reject the commodification of food.

Subject Areas

food valuation; food as commons; food as commodity; transition theory; narratives of transition; agency in transition; transformative agency; counter-hegemonic attitudes; gradual reformers

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