Local governance of a field in transition: The food policy council movement

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3 Scopus citations


Food regime analysis and some governance approaches contend that the construction of the next food regime depends on social movements and that novel conceptualizations as well as meso-level approaches are needed. A revision of field theory is employed to analyze food policy councils (FPCs) as a movement that represents a North American manifestation of emergent place-based governance. Analyzing FPCs' framing of the food system as strategic action fields, it is argued that FPCs may function as internal governance units that mediate local implementation of the next food regime. Other than a novel devolution toward the local level, FPCs' tactical repertoire reflects a dissonance between conventional means and claims of alternative/oppositional objectives. Various processes associated with a rationalization of the expertise and logic of singular fields may subvert the very form that frames FPCs' place-based democratic aspirations. Transformational capacities are assessed in view of Wright's qualitative distinction of transformational strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-109
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author would like to recognize helpful feedback on early versions of this paper from Krzysztof Gorlach, Piotr Nowak and colleagues with the Institute of Sociology at Jagiellonian University (Krakow, Poland); Matteo Marini, Daniela Falcioni and Alessandra Corrado and colleagues at the University of Calabria (Cosenza, Italy); and my colleague, Keiko Tanaka of the University of Kentucky. More recent suggestions of anonymous reviewers for JRS were invaluable. The support of the Department of Sociology and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky are always appreciated.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Field theory
  • Food democracy
  • Food policy councils
  • Governance
  • Local food
  • Social movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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