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Social inclusion in an alternative food network: values, practices and tensions


  • Catherine Closson
  • Estelle Fourat
  • Laurence Holzemer
  • Marek Hudon


This paper explores challenges a consumer food cooperative must address to combine social inclusion and embeddedness in its urban environment with the food quality standards it targets. While the difficulty in making alternative food networks (AFNs) socially accessible is well documented, little is known about organizational practices that foster inclusion in AFNs. Our research—based on over 100 participant observations of meetings held at the cooperative and on food activities with members of community organizations—has generated insight on how a participative process—through collective decisions, knowledge exchanges and workslot commitments—could facilitate or restrain social inclusion. Our results suggest that promotion of the value of equality for the largest number is hindered by differences in food, material and consumer cultures between cooperative members and non-members. The value of equality for the largest number is pragmatically applied through social inclusion regarding food supply and voluntary work participation.

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  • Catherine Closson & Estelle Fourat & Laurence Holzemer & Marek Hudon, 2019. "Social inclusion in an alternative food network: values, practices and tensions," Working Papers CEB 19-003, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/280933

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Alternative food network; Participatory action research; Consumer food cooperative; Social inclusion; Accessibility; Food democracy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q18 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Agricultural Policy; Food Policy; Animal Welfare Policy
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • M10 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - General
    • O35 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Social Innovation

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