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International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

Volume 25, Issue 1 (2019)

Constructing Common Causes: Justifications for and against Organic agriculture in the Finnish media                      97-115

Authors: Tomi Lehtimäki

Affiliations: Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

Abstract            PDF

 

This article examines how organic agriculture has been justified as a public issue. Using Boltanski’s and Thévenot’s pragmatic sociology, the article examines media discussions on organic agriculture in two Finnish newspapers. During the periods under examination (1982–1988, 1995–2000, 2008–2012), organic agriculture grew from a marginal movement into an established part of agricultural policy. The results show that different justifications for organic and conventional agriculture were connected to differing conceptions of collectivities and the common good. According to the analysis, issues related to the economic, environmental and technical aspects of agriculture have been the most dominant ones. These different ‘orders of worth’ have provided differing possibilities for actors to make connections between general principles and particular claims. In addition, a central way of structuring justifications has been a national conception of food and production, which has influenced conceptions of common good. Whereas advocates of organic agriculture constructed their justifications according to the opposition between organic and conventional, critiques conceptualized the issue as an opposition between organic and domestic production. This national framework
has both downplayed the relevance of organic agriculture and framed it as an economic issue. Therefore, the study concludes by suggesting elaborations for the understanding of the organic–conventional dichotomy as well as on economic justifications in the politics of organic agriculture, interpreting both through the conceptions of collectivity and the common good.