From Social Movements to Alternative Food Networks: What Role for Social Innovation?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Marco ALBERIO, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Canada
Melissa MORALLI, University of Bologna, Italy
In recent years, alternative food networks are emerging as solutions opposed to the mainstream food industry, which is widely controlled by big industrial groups. These innovative ways of producing, delivering and consuming food engender new challenges for social analysis. On the one hand, they reveal new reflexive and resilience capacities (Beck, Giddens, Lash, 1994) and show social actors’ creativity in re-organizing their activities as an answer to recent socioeconomic transformations. On the other, the relations between producers and consumers are reshaped, by combining practices, narratives and actions belonging both to the filed of production and consumption. The prosumer (Toffler, 1981) is thus an emblematic figure, as it will emerge in our presentation. Our paper explores the relation between contemporary social movements (Della Porta, Diani, 2009), social innovation and alternative food networks. Starting from the concept of social innovation framed through a territorial approach (Klein, Laville, Moulaert, 2014) we will examine the locally embedded creative capacity of social groups in the field of organic food production, distribution and consumption. Empirical evidence related to an Italian case study, Genuino Clandestino, will allow us to show how the issues of food sovereignty is tackled by small-scale local actors. We will look at how networks (at local, regional and national level) are able to mobilise human and financial resources, ideas and social innovation (meant both in terms of product, organisation and procedures). Through the literature review and the analysis of our case, we will focus on the rearrangement and networking of producer-consumer relation and inter-action, as well as the space of action of these actors and the constraints they experience. We also illustrate through which mechanisms these local initiatives may contribute to the creation of a wider social movement able to transform a collective voice into alternative social practices, creating new meanings and narratives.