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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 24, Issue 3 (2018)

London’s urban agriculture                                                                                                                                             354-376

Authors: Les Levidow

Affiliations: Open University

Abstract            PDF

In cooperative food activities, the pervasive term ‘community’ plays a performative role in stimulating congenial activities which build enthusiasms and expand alternative food-supply chains. As exemplified by London’s food initiatives, community-building entails several forms of social innovation, e.g. enhancing socio-political capabilities, fulfilling unsatisfied needs and redefining societal problems. In particular, these initiatives recast ‘food poverty’ as a socio-cultural poverty which warrants a system change.  They reframe ‘assets’ as people’s capacities, e.g. by defending amenities for lower-income people, re-commoning urban spaces, and resisting land-assetisation.  Social innovation depends on novel forms of agency in two main processes: capabilities development for a food culture, and multi-actor territorial outscaling. Together these build solidaristic interdependencies around a vision of food sovereignty for social justice.  To gain more resources, they accommodate or stretch the criteria of funding bodies; they strategically engage with local authorities as partners and/or critics.  London’s food initiatives face challenges in combining these diverse aims and activities.

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