IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Framing transformation: the counter-hegemonic potential of food sovereignty in the US context

Listed author(s):
  • Madeleine Fairbairn


Registered author(s):

    Originally created by the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina, the concept of “food sovereignty” is being used with increasing frequency by agrifood activists and others in the Global North. Using the analytical lens of framing, I explore the effects of this diffusion on the transformative potential of food sovereignty. US agrifood initiatives have recently been the subject of criticism for their lack of transformative potential, whether because they offer market-based solutions rather than demanding political ones or because they fail to adequately address existing social injustice. In this paper, I consider how food sovereignty measures up to this critique both as it was originally framed by Vía Campesina and as it is being reframed for the US context. First I briefly compare food sovereignty to community food security (CFS), which was developed more explicitly for the North American context and has been criticized for its lack of transformative potential. I then explore how the potential of food sovereignty has been affected as it is reframed to resonate with US audiences through an examination of its use on the web sites of US-based organizations. I find that, while some reframing of the concept to highlight consumer choice does seem to be occurring, it remains a primarily political concept. It may not, however, be fulfilling its potential for addressing social injustice in the US agrifood system because it tends to be used either in reference to international issues or, when applied to the US context, treated as a rough synonym for local control. I conclude that, if advocates can successfully guide the reframing process, food sovereignty could serve as a valuable counter-hegemonic vision to complement the more pragmatic and locally-grounded work of CFS advocates. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Springer & The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS) in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 217-230

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:2:p:217-230
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-011-9334-x
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Jack Kloppenburg & Neva Hassanein, 2006. "From old school to reform school?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 23(4), pages 417-421, December.
    2. Patricia Allen, 1999. "Reweaving the food security safety net: Mediating entitlement and entrepreneurship," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 16(2), pages 117-129, June.
    3. Molly Anderson & John Cook, 1999. "Community food security: Practice in need of theory?," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 16(2), pages 141-150, June.
    4. Patricia Allen & Julie Guthman, 2006. "From “old school” to “farm-to-school”: Neoliberalization from the ground up," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 23(4), pages 401-415, December.
    5. Aimee Shreck, 2005. "Resistance, redistribution, and power in the Fair Trade banana initiative," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 22(1), pages 17-29, 03.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:2:p:217-230. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

    or (Rebekah McClure)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.