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Observing the observers – uncovering the role of values in research assessments of organic food systems

Thorsøe, Martin H.; Noe, Egon and Alrøe, Hugo Fjelsted (2013) Observing the observers – uncovering the role of values in research assessments of organic food systems. Ecology and Society, 19 (2), 46- .

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Document available online at: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss2/art46/


Assessing the overall effects of organic food systems is important, but also a challenge because organic food systems cannot be fully assessed from one single research perspective. The aim of the article is to uncover the role of values in assessments of organic food systems as a basis for discussing the implications of combining multiple perspectives in overall sustainability assessments of the food system. We explore how values are embedded in five research perspectives assessing organic food systems, 1) Food Science, 2) Discourse Analysis, 3) Phenomenology, 4) Neoclassical Welfare Economics and 5) Actor-Network Theory. The article shows that value has various meanings in different scientific perspectives, and that a strategy for including and balancing different forms of knowledge in overall assessments of the effects of food systems is needed. Based on the analysis, we propose five ecommendations: 1) Elucidate values as a necessary foundation for research assessment across perspectives. 2 The choice of perspective is decisive and should be openly discussed 3) Formulate common goals which can be translated into the different perspectives and 4) Consider assessment
of food system sustainability a learning process and design it as such.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Organic Farming; Food Systems; Multicriteria Assessment; Values
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Specific methods > Indicators and other value-laden measures
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
Research affiliation: Denmark > Organic RDD 1 > MultiTrust
Deposited By: Thorsøe, Postdoc Martin
ID Code:24620
Deposited On:12 Nov 2013 12:38
Last Modified:19 Sep 2014 14:38
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:MultiTrust, Deliverable nr.: 2.2.1

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