Food democracy: possibilities under the frame of the current food system

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Springer Nature
Food democracy is a concept with growing influence in food research. Food democracy deals with how actors may regain democratic control over the food system enabling its sustainable transformation. Following multi-level perspective framework's connotations, food democracy research has so far mainly focused on the niche level of the food system. An integrative approach that includes the perspectives of both the regime and the niche is still missing. This study addresses this research gap and proposes a new conceptual framework for food democracy that includes actors from the niche and the regime level. Furthermore, we apply our conceptual framework to the urban food system of Vienna (Austria) to explore the deeper meaning and practice of food democracy. Finally, we have conducted semi-structured interviews with actors at niche level (10) and regime level (25) within Vienna’s urban food system. Findings from this research broaden the perspective on food democracy and illustrate actors’ contributions at niche and regime level such as promoting organic food, re-localizing food provision, and procuring environmentally sustainable public food. Barriers to food democracy were also identified, e.g.: actors’ self-enhancement values, market-orientation, and capitalist alignment or lack of transparency. We conclude that actors at the niche and, to some extent, at the regime level may contribute to a process of on-going changes that fosters a transformation of established structures within the food system.
© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agriculture and Human Values, 2021, available online at: . Keywords: food democracy; food system sustainability; multi-level perspective; urban food system; case study.
López Cifuentes, M., Gugerell, C. Food democracy: possibilities under the frame of the current food system. Agric Hum Values 38, 1061–1078 (2021).