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Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Re-imagining sustainable agro-food futures
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Re-imagining sustainable agro-food futures: alternative bio-economies in a knowledge society era

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published

Publication date4/12/2012
Number of pages350
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisor(s)/Advisor
Date of Award4/12/2012
Place of publicationLancaster
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to bring into creative dialogue two contemporary, and allegedly contradictory, developments: the rise of ‘alternative agro-food networks’ (AAFNs) and the vision of a knowledge-based (bio)economy (KB(B)E). Despite the rich theoretical investigations that indicate both developments’ great potential impact on the current and future socio-political and economic order, there has been little attempt towards an identification of their interrelationship. Taking into consideration earlier relevant studies, this thesis mainly employs a political-economic approach to AAFNs and the KB(B)E. Based on interviews and participant observation with alternative agro-food practitioners in Cumbria and Manchester, and official documents and internet sources, it aims to identify the particular knowledge-economic and moral-economic aspects of AAFNs, and, thereby shed some light on their interrelationship with the KB(B)E. In doing so, it further investigates the ‘alternative’ character of AAFNs in relation to the KB(B)E and identifies those particular aspects and ways through which AAFNs can carry a potential to constitute an alternative to the existing KB(B)E, but also be considered as an alternative KB(B)E, one with distinctive moral-economic characteristics. Through such an assessment, this thesis not only contributes to the enhancement of knowledge and understanding of both developments, but also encourages a critical re-thinking of each of them. In particular, by providing some critical insights into the potential role of AAFNs in the configuration and future re-construction of the contemporary knowledge-economic order, it also aims to suggest a re-consideration of the KB(B)E itself: beyond its capitalocentric assumptions, its association with high-tech innovation and its current manifestation in policy recommendations and research agendas. In doing so, it also encourages the identification of other potential, though currently marginalised, alternative knowledge-economic spaces that can carry extra-economic values and socio-economic benefits and that can potentially lead to a re-configuration of the sustainable agro-food system.