Tag Archives: Ethical Shopping

Small-P Politics: New article in British Journal of Sociology

I am happy to report that an article I have worked on with Emily Huddart Kennedy and John Parkins is now available in British Journal of Sociology.  The article is called “Small-p politics: how pleasurable, convivial and pragmatic political ideals influence engagement in eat-local initiatives”.

In the realm of local food, it’s often important to emphasize how food can be pleasurable and convivial. This is a pragmatic strategy for many reasons, and forces scholars to think carefully about what we mean by “politics”. Interviewing and observing food actors located in civil, state and market spheres in three Canadian cities, we describe a set of commonly articulated political ideals that inform and shape an engagement approach that we call “small-p politics”. We analyze why small-p politics is such an attractive option for food movement actors, but caution that narrowing the scope of tools and topics available for civic participation may compromise the ability for collective action to tackle barriers to justice and sustainability.

 

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Organic vs. local? New article in Canadian Food Studies

Photo of purple cauliflower. By Suzie's Farm on Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo by Suzie’s Farm: https://flic.kr/p/e9ouDX

Who buys organic food, and who prioritizes local food?

We provide some insights on this question in a new article published by Canadian Food Studies. The article, authored by Shyon Baumann, Athena Engmann, Emily Huddart-Kennedy and me, is based on a survey of food shoppers in Toronto. Here are a few of our key findings:

  • The intention to buy organic food tends to be associated with parents who have children under the age of five. Health and taste concerns are top of mind in informing their purchases.
  • The intention to buy local food tends to be associated with educated, white women consumers. For these shoppers, collectivist concerns like the environment and supporting the local economy are a key motivator.
  • We argue that the predominant ‘individualist’ vs. ‘collectivist’ framing in the scholarly literature should be reformulated to accommodate an intermediate motivation.
    • Organic food consumption is often motivated by a desire to consume for others (e.g. children) in ways that aren’t straightforwardly individualist or collectivist, but that instead exemplify a caring motivation that falls somewhere between the two.

Can consumers buy alternative foods at a big box supermarket?

Supermarket

Photo credit: plasticchef1 on Flickr Creative Commons

A commentary I published in the Journal of Marketing Management, “Can consumers buy alternative foods at a big box supermarket?”, is now available online (and free for the month of May). It’s part of a special issue that considers the question of “alternatives” in food and drink markets (Eds. J Smith Maguire, J Lang and D Watson). I use a case study of ethical meat to consider the diverse, often contradictory ideals that inform consumers’ search for alternatives to mainstream market options.

I propose three main takeaways. 1) The goal of producing  consumer alternatives is significantly hampered by the competing, and often contradictory demands of market forces. 2) The discourse of food alternatives uses a ‘win-win’ logic suggesting that consumers don’t have to sacrifice anything or change their habits. I believe that consumer projects for ecological and social change face a necessary but exceptionally challenging task of reshaping, and even downgrading consumer expectations. 3) Although I’m deeply sympathetic to the desire to “feel good” about shopping, the search for eco-social alternatives cannot simply make consumers feel good about their purchases. Food ‘alternatives’ have to go beyond feel good feelings, and address the material realities and limitations of niche markets.

Food and femininity in the Sociological Review

Food and Femininity Cover

Dr. Rebecca Sandover, an Associate Research Fellow in Geography at the University of Exeter, recently took the time to write a very thoughtful review of Food and Femininity. You can read the full piece in the Sociological Review, and here is an excerpt:

Through an immersion in the processes of decision making for household food choices, Food and Femininity offers a rich account of the thorny tensions faced by shoppers attempting to work out food ethics in their everyday eating lives. However, as Cairns and Johnston spotlight, these tensions are even more acute for women attempting to walk the tightrope of enacting feminist, post-feminist and healthy eating bodies within the framework of gendered food practices. . . . this book not only examines food and femininity, it also sets out feminist methodologies for researching food issues.