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Paolo Graziano on the research potential about ‘food citizens’.

A political science perspective on our project’s comparative ethnography.

I truly enjoyed the one-day conference on February 4th where the research results have been shared with the members of the Advisory Board. The work conducted so far is impressive, and the case studies are very useful in understanding how food procurement networks operate. Here following come some ideas on how the research may also possibly be developed in a ‘policy analysis’ perspective.

First, the in-depth, ethnographic research is very useful for inductive research hypotheses development with respect to the analysis of practices of alternative food production and distribution, and waste prevention. The richness of the detailed case-studies may be used in order to understand which may be the drivers and facilitators for the development of local food policies. Put differently, by comparing the case studies patterns of ‘success’ or ‘failure’ in terms of influencing the local policy agenda may emerge and be used for other research projects which may cover other countries and/or cities.

Second, a structured comparison may also allow us not only to understand how institutional actors may be mobilized by alternative food social movements, but it could also allow us to know more about the constellation of other social actors (other agricultural groups? other citizens’ groups?) which may be conducive to local change in terms of both food production and distribution and food waste reduction.

Third, another very original research development could be to investigate if political strategies are used by alternative food networks actors in order to gain support for policy innovation. We may identify two possible local trajectories: the first may be more inclined to support alternative social practices and expand the social relevance and reach of alternative food networks; the second could be more policy oriented, with the aim of building social and political networks in order to develop or change local food policies. The ‘Food Citizens?’ project could help us shed new light also on these relevant issues.

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