RC40 Mini-Conference: Exploring the richness of diversity in alternative agrifood movements


Allison Loconto, National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), France

Reidar Almås, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

Hilde Bjørkhaug, Center for Rural Research, Norway

Maria Fonte, University of Naples Federico II, Italy

Contact: allison-marie.loconto@inra.fr


The recent iPES report (2016) clearly outlined the current challenge that we are facing as we try to transition towards a sustainable global food system. Internationally, and also within local and national contexts, these transitions are multiple and diverse strategies are needed to overcome the challenges of both reducing reliance on high-input models of agriculture and on moving out of purely subsistence models. This WG picks up on the conference theme ‘mirrors and the richness of diversity’ by inviting papers that take an international perspective on alternative agrifood movements, social innovation and other innovative approaches to connecting production and consumption in agrifood systems. Specifically, we look to bridge a number of dichotomies in both theories of alternative agrifood movements and in their practice – such as rural/urban, conventional/alternative, short/long chains, local/global food systems – by sharing experiences from around the world that illustrate diversity and hybridity. As part of the renewed RC40 interest in bridging the divide between research and practice (Friedland, 2010), this working group will focus on creating dialogue between researchers (junior and senior) and activists who study and engage in alternative agrifood movements and social innovation in order better understand how a diversity of values and visions are solving social problems or proposing innovative ways to foster diversity in agrifood systems. We particularly welcome those papers that are co-written by researchers and activists and those that focus on some of the current initiatives that are moving us beyond the lingering dichotomies in the sociology of agriculture and food.


The WG will use a ‘slow talk’ format. Two-page extended abstracts should be submitted one month before the conference and each paper will receive 20 minutes of attention: 5 minutes presentation by the author, 5 minutes commentary by a discussant and 10 minutes of discussion by WG participants. We will ensure intergenerational and transdisciplinary dialogue through the pairing of papers and discussants. Each author should prepare one slide containing only an image that captures the main message of their paper, while the discussant will prepare a slide with an image that captures the main message that they understood from the paper. These images will not be shared between the authors and discussants before the conference, but will provide a visual catalyst for discussion. The papers accepted in this WG will be considered for inclusion in a special issue of the International Journal of the Sociology of Agriculture and Food.


Friedland WH. (2010) New Ways of Working and Organization: Alternative Agrifood Movements and Agrifood Researchers. Rural Sociology 75: 601-627.

IPES-Food. (2016) From uniformity to diversity: A paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems. In: Frison EA (ed). Brussels: International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES Food).