Shortening the chains: Social relations and Dynamics of production in Upland's Alternative Food Networks

Last changed: 22 May 2023
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Eleni Katsika, Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's programme


Food is a globalized commodity, and the current food (CFS) system is characterized by highly concentrated, capitalist markets where small-scale farmers are pushed into the side-line. The need to transform this system, towards a just and farmer-centered one is urgent. Alternative food networks (AFNs) have emerged globally to express opposition to the conventional food system. This study investigates the transformative capacity of AFNs in the Swedish region of Upland, by exploring their commoning practices. Following a qualitative approach, 9 in-depth interviews combined with a Venn diagram were conducted with producers that participate in AFNs, and with network representatives. The study concludes that AFNs introduce new sets of social relations among producers by enabling trust and a strong community feeling. This generates alternative dynamics of producing, exchanging, and managing resources, which involves a transparent and inclusionary system of collective management. The Venn diagram reveals how participants position AFNs and themselves in relation to the CFS, showing that they operate in different spheres. However, they think that they have to compete with what the system creates, rather than with the system itself.


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