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Intermediating transitions to sustainable food systems

Abstract : The socio-technical transitions literature has focused on sustainability (Grin, et al., 2010, Markard et al., 2012) and the epistemic controversies of agronomic knowledge (Sumberg and Thompson, 2012). It tells us that systems are faced with oppositional pressures from path-dependencies and socio-technical lock-ins; innovations must de-link from existing pathways so to re-direct them or create new ones (Geels, et al., 2016) and their regulation must likewise accommodate multi-layered hybridity (van Zwanenberg, et al., 2013). While early studies traced historical transitions, recent advances focus on the ‘anchoring’ of technologies, networks and institutions (Elzen, et al., 2012) where linking novelties with existing structures and institutions is precarious. We are in the midst of diverse transitions to sustainable food systems at multiple levels, thus any analysis of them needs to capture their dynamics; we must study ‘transitions in the making’. This requires a shift in the analytical focus from historical pathways to the practices of actors as they construct the pathways (Elzen, et al., 2011, 2007, Steyaert et al., 2016, Stirling, 2011). One area that remains understudied is the role of intermediaries (e.g., Howells, 2006). These actors are typically characterized as independent and disinterested parties who introduce new flows of knowledge and objects to existing networks or fill knowledge gaps in system failures. But recent work on sustainability in food systems found anomalies (Loconto, et al., 2016). At times, knowledge is uncertain, contested or old; networks are not pre-formed; and interests and normative values are misaligned. Intermediation is thus not always performed by a designated third-party, but by an interested actor who takes up a new role within the system, stimulates learning processes and changes the rules and routines (Kilelu, et al., 2011). In sum, there is a gap in understanding the role of intermediaries in governing the direction of transitions towards sustainable food systems, which we try to fill with this paper by following intermediaries as they work out solutions to the challenges they face in transitioning food systems. (...)
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Submitted on : Tuesday, June 2, 2020 - 9:47:21 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-02739277, version 1
  • PRODINRA : 370382



Allison Marie Loconto, Anne Sophie Poisot, Pilar Santacoloma, Marcello Vicovaro. Intermediating transitions to sustainable food systems. Democratizing Food Governance, American University of Rome (AUR). Rome, ITA., Oct 2016, Rome, Italy. ⟨hal-02739277⟩



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