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This introduction provides an overview of the discourse on alternative agrifood movements (AAMs) to (1) ascertain the degree of convergence and divergence around a common…
This introduction provides an overview of the discourse on alternative agrifood movements (AAMs) to (1) ascertain the degree of convergence and divergence around a common ethos of alterity and (2) context the chapters of the book. AAMs have increased in recent years in response to the growing legitimation crisis of the conventional agrifood system. Some agrifood researchers argue that AAMs represent the vanguard movement of our time, a formidable counter movement to global capitalism. Other authors note a pattern of blunting of the transformative qualities of AAMs due to conventionalization and mainstreaming in the market. The literature on AAMs is organized following a Four Questions in Agrifood Studies (Constance, 2008) framework. The section for each Question ends with a case study to better illustrate the historical dynamics of an AAM. The literature review ends with a summary of the discourse applied to the research question of the book: Are AAMs the vanguard social movement of our time? The last section of this introduction provides a short description of each contributing chapter of the book, which is divided into five sections: Introduction; Theoretical and Conceptual Framings; Food Sovereignty Movements; Alternative Movements in the Global North; and Conclusions.
The success enjoyed by some of the alternative agrifood movements has led to a dual process: on the one hand, their mainstreaming and cooptation; while on the other hand, their institutionalization into public regulation and law. This dual process is the result of the influence these movements have had on consumers and politicians and serves to demonstrate the constant exchange between the spheres of public and private regulation, a feature that characterizes the neoliberal model of governance. In turn, this has led to the appearance of new alternative initiatives which may converge with or diverge from founding initiatives when these are the result of divisions within a movement. The question that arises here is obvious: despite these evident achievements, by working within the market and using the tools of neoliberal regulation, have these movements managed to generate the social change they intended from the outset? This chapter will attempt to answer the question by offering a reflection on two of the most widely discussed aspects of this strategy: first, the private and/or public space where these movements develop and the citizen-consumer duality of the actors to whom they appeal; and second, their ability to generate standards, norms, and certification systems, that is, their ability to establish the rules of the game.
This chapter presents the case of the coffee-growing region located in the southern portion of the state of Chiapas, along the Guatemalan border. This region was…
This chapter presents the case of the coffee-growing region located in the southern portion of the state of Chiapas, along the Guatemalan border. This region was relatively prosperous until the 1980s, thanks in part to price support programs established through international coffee agreements. A short supply of labor attracted farm workers from adjacent regions. These were seasonal, undocumented workers who arrived from Guatemala and whose status of illegal immigrants fostered their exploitation. The liberalization of the international coffee market combined with a sharply reduced state intervention engendered the control over coffee production by a few transnational companies and the collapse of the economy of small producers. Combined with natural disasters whose effects were not addressed by the neoliberal state, this situation caused the region to be bypassed by Guatemalan labor that now prefers direct migration to the United States. This region also has been transformed into an increasingly underdeveloped area affected by outmigration. Chiapas has become a long vertical border for undocumented Central American workers as Mexican migration policy has toughened following the establishment of the US national security policy. In this sense, there is a stark contrast between the mobility of financial and commercial capital and the ease with which both move in and out from the region, and the obstacles imposed on labor mobility.
Through a categorisation of the convergence/divergence frame of this book into conceptual, organisational and analytical, and following a ‘corporate environmental’ and…
Through a categorisation of the convergence/divergence frame of this book into conceptual, organisational and analytical, and following a ‘corporate environmental’ and ‘corporate food’ regimes theoretical basis, in this chapter we sum up the findings of this collective work and develop some future research needs. The results presented show that at the conceptual level we can outline two different trends regarding alternative agrifood movements and their social transformation potential. In the global South the movements have a more radical/oppositional focus while in the global North the focus is more alternative/progressive. The context in the latter, where the movements are generally consumers leaded and political consumerism plays an important role, is a serious threat for the movements, leading to a loss of the transformative ideal as mainstreaming and conventionalisation occurs. We wonder if it is possible to build a common fighting strategy with a model perspective that allows global North movements to stay radical/oppositional. At the organisational level we conclude that novel tools are required to build common views promoting oppositional strategies. Experiences from the Diálogo de Saberes suggest that this tool built on different principles and values such as horizontalisation, learning, respect or gender perspective, among others, can be useful in this matter. In this regard, further research is needed to look at how alternative agrifood movements deal with gender and whether ecofeminist theories can help in the process of building a common global oppositional strategy. Finally, the analytical level centred in the production system shows that even at this very pragmatic level the food regime applies and that it is the values underlying each production system what defines the options for convergence and divergence.
At the outset, though, and before brief summaries of each of these cases are presented, it is important to underscore two key points that guide the organization of the entire volume. First, capital mobility is a complex phenomenon that assumes various forms as different types of capitals move at different velocities. Second, capital mobility is a necessary and irreplaceable component of capitalism. As for the first aspect, we will consider three types of capital: financial capital, productive capital, and labor. Obviously, these three forms of capital are endowed with different features that affect their behaviors and their ability to move through time and space. While all these three forms of capital share the common requirement that they need to be utilized in increasingly accelerated manners if capital accumulation had to expand, they also display tendencies that favor financial and productive capital and subordinate labor. If effect, the subordination of labor to financial and productive capital is one of the primary characteristics of globalization and one item that allowed the rapid expansion of capital accumulation over the last two decades.
This chapter seeks to address questions related to the convergence among alternative agrifood movements as well as the convergence between alternative and conventional…
This chapter seeks to address questions related to the convergence among alternative agrifood movements as well as the convergence between alternative and conventional practices with a focus on local movements. We reconstruct the common conflation of the alternative/conventional binary into a multidimensional measure that recognizes the complex interactions of economic, political, social, and cultural elements in the construction of convention, alterity, and opposition. We also consider several forms of possible convergence: multi-organizational, multi-sectoral (among elements of the agrifood system), multidimensional (among political, economic, cultural, and social practices), and multilevel or scale (hierarchy of spatially embedded governance units). These matters are empirically examined by focusing on the rapidly growing Food Policy Council (FPC) movement in North America. We address the question of this movement’s diffusion, consider its variable linkages between state and civil society, and examine the substantive practices and framings in which the movement has been engaged. While we find that most FPC practices are probably vulnerable to conventionalization, the movement’s most valuable function may be its modular form. That form functions as an incubator of multi-organizational and multi-sectoral experimental practices in a multiplicity of local environments. Further, ties between FPCs provide a networking mechanism for transmitting information about the successes and failures of those experiments among hundreds of locales and regions. Finally, the discourse among the FPC leadership amplifies values favoring the democratization of food, and articulates beliefs in the right to food as well as notions of food citizenship and sovereignty.