Theories and issues relating to the global politics of food and agriculture
This paper provides a critical, historically grounded introduction to one of the most
important political, economic and social aspects of the contemporary world - food.
The paper begins with the industrial revolution and identifies the factors that restructured
how people feed themselves. An integral part of the industrial revolution was the
expanding working class in England. During the 18th, 19th and into the 20th century
this food system drew differing regions of the globe into close relations with each
other - totally transforming the nature of local society and culture. In the 20th
century this food system underwent another period of transformation as the industrial
processing of food, the emergence of large food transnational corporations and the
integration of ever-widening portions of the globe into the world food system restructured
world food relationships. These dramatic transformations are examined through the
lens of food regime theory, which seeks to understand periods of stability and periods
of transformational crisis in world food relations.
The contemporary situation in world food relations can be argued to be entering one of these periods of transformational crisis. Characterised by the World Food Crisis of 2008, increasing arrays of ecological shocks and threats and dramatically changing cultural and political dynamics around food, this paper seeks to understand the sociological bases around which a future world of food might take shape. The paper has proved of great interest to students who are:
- Interested in critical political economy approaches that inform social scientific understandings of contemporary crises
- Those interested in food activism and politics or issues around environmental sustainability and resilience
- Those in traditional areas of food research who are looking for a wider social and historical context to the specific issues they are examining in other papers.
|Paper title||The Global Politics of Food|
|Teaching period||Second Semester|
|Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD)||$886.35|
|International Tuition Fees (NZD)||$3,766.35|
- 18 200-level SOCI, GEND, CRIM or ANTH points or 54 200-level Arts points
- ANTH 319
- Schedule C
- Arts and Music
- Students who have not passed the normal prerequisites may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.
- The paper does not use a single textbook, but collected readings and documentaries about key topics in the paper are made available through Blackboard.
- Graduate Attributes Emphasised
- Global perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking,
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
- Learning Outcomes
- The aims of the paper are to:
- Become familiar with an understanding of the political and social importance of food
- Understand different kinds of politics around food's production and consumption
- Appreciate the value of looking at history through food and its relevance today
- Grasp the complexity of food as it relates to the politics of resources, the environment and social justice
- Employ food regimes theory as a critical theoretical tool
- Critically examine research literature
- Compare and contrast the social impact of different kinds of commodities throughout history
- Explain basic concepts and theories related to a politics of food
- The paper has been designed to cater for two student groups. First, there is enough social theory in this paper to satisfy students who are interested in sociological approaches to contemporary phenomena. However, there is not too much theory, as this paper has traditionally been open to students from a range of other backgrounds who have a strong interest in the politics of food.
- More information link
- View more information on the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work's website
- Teaching staff
- Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Professor Hugh
- Paper Structure
- The four main sections of the paper are:
- Empires of Food: The Industrial/Imperial Food Regime
- The Second Food Regime
- Food under Neoliberalism: The Emerging Crises
- The New Politics of Food
- Teaching Arrangements
The paper is arranged around classroom teaching and tutorials, recommended food-related films and some non-compulsory fieldtrips to local food producers creating craft products like chocolate, beer and coffee.
Assessment involves three major assignments (students can choose to only do two out of three of these), which address each of the following three issues: historical dynamics of global food, contemporary crises of industrial food, strategic interventions in food politics.
There is no final exam for the paper.