Food security: The elaboration of contested claims to a consensus frame

Patrick H. Mooney, Scott A. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


This article demonstrates Garrison's claim that behind the apparent agreement implied by "consensus frames" lies considerable dissensus. Ironically, the very potency of consensus frames may generate contested claims to the ownership of a social problem. Food security is a potent consensus frame that has generated at least three distinct collective action frames: food security as hunger; food security as a component of a community's developmental whole; and food security as minimizing risks with respect to an industrialized food system's vulnerability to both "normal accidents" as well as the "intentional accidents" associated with agriterrorism. We show that each collective action frame reflects internal normative variation identified here with Goffman's "keying" concept. These keys suggest power differentials in the endorsement or critique of dominant institutional practices. Each frame and associated keys reflect distinct sets of interests by collective actors, such as demands for substantively different applications of science and technology. The prognostic framing of the community food security movement coinci- dentally holds potential for reducing not only the accidental risks of productivist agriculture but also the uncertainty induced by the risk of terrorist exploitation of those vulnerabilities. The article explores power differentials and variable levels of oppositional consciousness as mechanisms by which keys generate contentious politics within frames while serving as potential bridges between frames. This contested ownership of food security has implications for the associated movements' and organizations' capacity to influence the structure of the agrifood system as well as the broader socioeconomic organization of rural regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-497
Number of pages29
JournalRural Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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