Food movements and organizations are increasingly complementing their longstanding emphasis on environment with a focus on social justice. This conceptual chapter discusses dimensions in which engagements in this arena diverge and converge along a continuum from neoliberalization to opposition/structural change. Categories and visions of social justice vary widely, highlighting certain social categories and locations while eliding others. Gender, in particular, is a social category that is a key factor in the allocation of power and privilege, but that has not been significantly addressed in efforts toward social justice in most food movements.
The topics and categories movements consider most important determine their assignments of energies. These assignments in turn create common understandings of priorities and mechanisms for changing the food system, although they may omit consideration of key axes of oppression. For example, strategic preferences for family farms and food-system localization may not consider legacies and contemporary practices of enslavement, exploitation, and patriarchy.
As movements increase their focus on social justice, they can engage in critical reflection and dialogue to interrogate the nature of conditions of injustice and the causes behind these conditions. This would include examining how practices and discourses of racism, classism, and sexism – along with the ways they intersect – have shaped, reflect, and reproduce the food system. This process must privilege the participation, perspectives, and priorities of those who suffer from injustice. It can then best illuminate strategic definitions and pathways that can move toward transformation of a food system grounded in conditions of social justice.
Allen, P. (2014), "Divergence and Convergence in Alternative Agrifood Movements: Seeking a Path Forward", Alternative Agrifood Movements: Patterns of Convergence and Divergence (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 21), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 49-68. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1057-192220140000021008
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