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Knowing food - a privilege for the concerned consumer? A research programme on organic urban-rural relationships

Moschitz, Dr. Heidrun (2008) Knowing food - a privilege for the concerned consumer? A research programme on organic urban-rural relationships. Speech at: European Summer School of Rural Sociology, Nagykanizsa, 24.-30.08.2008.

[thumbnail of Moschitz_Organic_Food_ESRS_2008.pdf] PDF - German/Deutsch


Community supported agriculture (CSA) is increasingly practised in different countries all over the world and can be seen as a step towards a new style of urban-rural relationship. However, it is argued that CSA is an “utopian entertainment for a few middle class consumers and their fortunate few farmer friends” (Goodman and DuPuis 2002, p. 17). Often, such CSA projects rest on organic agriculture, a farming system which in turn provides food mainly to the middle class of well-educated concerned consumers (Morgan and Murdoch 2000). Thus, one could argue that organic CSA is a highly exclusive concept, and that, in consequence, building urban-rural relationships depends on a small part of society ignoring, for example, poorer, often less educated consumers.
This paper outlines the planned research accompanying a pilot CSA project in a Swiss city targeted at less educated people without special concerns (or the budget needed) for healthy, organic or otherwise alternative food. It thereby critically reflects the predominance of middle class consumers in the urban-rural relationship. With the help of ethnographic methods, such as participatory observation and in-depth (narrative) interviews, the project will explore (learning) processes that lead to “knowing” food in CSA.
Conceiving of the production-consumption relationship as a discourse sees consumer actions as political when they exercise “the capacity to act” in a way that affects future society (Goodman and DuPuis 2002). The project will study in how far the target group of less educated people participates in this political action. It furthermore explores if there are processes which could empower them to decide deliberately whether or not to take part in such political action, and to effectuate their “right to know” (Allen and Kovach 2000), thus democratizing the urban-rural link.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Speech
Keywords:community supported agriculture; empowerment; organic food; political consumerism; social exclusion;
Subjects: Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Socio-Economics > Rural sociology
Deposited By: Moschitz, Heidrun
ID Code:14990
Deposited On:16 Mar 2009
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:38
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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