Consumers on the Farm: Participatory Governance and Sustainability Transitions

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Prominentenzimmer (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Maki HATANAKA, Sociology, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX, USA
The current regime of neoliberal food governance has been widely critiqued as being unsustainable. In response, a variety of initiatives have emerged to increase the sustainability in food and agriculture. On the one hand, there is a proliferation of sustainability standards and certification schemes, which increasingly take the form of multi-stakeholder initiatives. On the other hand, there are (re)localization of the food system movements, which have spawned farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, and community gardens. While both approaches contributing to more sustainable food, neither model is without critique. The model of sustainability standards and certification is argued to exclude citizen participation and be undemocratic, whereas the (re)localization approach is often viewed as lacking legitimacy because of its reliance on laypeople knowledge. Furthermore, both of these models assume that consumer’s purchasing behavior in the marketplace plays a key role in enhancing the sustainability in food and agriculture. Examining a Japanese consumer cooperative’s activities, this paper investigates governance practices that integrate both expert and citizen knowledge in building a sustainable agrifood system. It also examines the role of consumers in transitioning agrifood systems towards more sustainable practices.