Are Hipster Tomatoes Socially Innovative? Forms of Urban Agriculture and Its Potential of Social Innovation

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Prominentenzimmer (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Renato MARIN, University of Barcelona, Spain
This paper works about in what extent different forms of Urban Agriculture (UA) contain potential of social innovation (SI). In order to achieve this main goal, this paper analyzes and compares the performance of several cases of seven types of UA experiences in Barcelona with a qualitative approach. The building of UA as sociological problem has been nourished by the interest on different focuses (community gardens, alternative food networks, food sovereignty, food self-provision, etc.) shaping a range of theoretical nuances. I use a typology of UA forms based on organizational features, scale of production, orientation, function and other aspects. That includes from the newest collective trends to more traditional forms of food production within city boundaries. I look for articulating mechanisms of social innovation through urban agriculture practice. I consider something as socially innovative when social, power and economic relations are re-defined inside the city in terms of mobilization and processes oriented towards the improving of social relation, governance structures and collective empowerment. The embeddedness into the urban grid is the main difference between rural and urban agriculture, from an ecological and social perspective. This embedding defines the interdependence conditions between ecological and social processes and draws the scenario where SI takes place. UA usually is an expression of the individual and collective right to decide and feel the city as the dwellers want. My main hypothesis is that the value of UA as a vector of SI lies in its social features instead of technical characteristics. I pay special attention on UA’s role as a polanyian protective counter-movement and a de-alienating force.