Social Action and Agrifood Movements: Diversity, Aims and Outcomes, Oct 6

Monday, October 06, 2014

From Slow Food to better school food to Occupy Big Food and well beyond, the agrifood arena has become a hotbed of social action and concern. Media pundits, food commentators and everyday enthusiasts now speak almost offhandedly of a “food movement.” However, beneath the broadbrush of a “food movement” lies considerable diversity in social movement antecedents and commitments, levels of organization and forms of action. We readily view diversity, perhaps especially agrobiodiversity, as a valuable and desirable attribute of farming systems. How should we think about the implications of an agrifood movement field manifesting diverse and sometimes contradictory forms of social action? Drawing primarily on the North American context, this talk presents a developing sociological framework for considering diversity, divergence, change and impacts of both unorganized and more organized social action and initiatives related to agrifood issues.

Clare Hinrichs is a professor of Rural Sociology at Penn State University and a Visiting Fellow at BFI this Fall. Her work centers on the social dynamics in transitions to sustainable food and agricultural systems, and has included both discipline-focused research projects and larger multi-institutional, interdisciplinary collaborations. She and her students have worked recently on the development, organization and outcomes of local and alternative food initiatives; the social impacts of sustainability and other quality standards for food and agriculture; and emerging knowledge systems and practice to support sustainable regional food and energy security.