Framing of Agri-food Research Affects the Analysis of Food Security: The Critical Role of the Social Sciences

##plugins.themes.bootstrap3.article.main##

##plugins.themes.bootstrap3.article.sidebar##

Published Jun 4, 2012
Marta G. Rivera-Ferre

Abstract

In our knowledge society, science plays a key role in policy-making through the production of assessments that provide evidence-based information to decision-makers. In that manner, science has also gained significant political power. This is an enormous responsibility for scientists but also constitutes a dangerous situation, since different social discourses lead to different analyses of a given problem, and to different solutions with very different impacts. Generally, this is the case of agri-food assessments, including food security, where impacts are huge given the present situation of nearly 1,000 million people suffering from hunger. In agri-food sciences framing of the research is mainly determined by two factors: the linkages between science and the concept of development, and the role given to agriculture in society. In general, it is easy to find two different opposite types of framing, with different objects of study, methods and characteristics. One type, which I refer to as official framing, tends to separate social and natural sciences, is more simplistic in analysing the causes of hunger, of food price crises or other important issues affecting food security. This type of scientific assessment usually regards solutions as more technical rather than social and/or political, and aims to find a panacea that can provide solutions to a given problem, in this case hunger. On the other side we have scientific evaluations, here alternative framing, which tend to be inter/trans-disciplinary, with a higher participation of social sciences. In this case, analyses tend to conceive agri-food system as complex systems, problems are normally more political than technical, and solutions tend to be diverse, contextual to each social, cultural and environmental context. In this sense, to encourage a change in agri-food assessments that recognizes the role of social sciences in addressing food security, critical social scientists can facilitate the introduction of frameworks developed by sustainability scientists into agri-food science, including the study of agri-food systems as socio-ecological complex systems.

How to Cite

[1]
G. Rivera-Ferre, M. 2012. Framing of Agri-food Research Affects the Analysis of Food Security: The Critical Role of the Social Sciences . The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. 19, 2 (Jun. 2012), 162–175. DOI:https://doi.org/10.48416/ijsaf.v19i2.222.
Abstract 171 | PDF Downloads 107

##plugins.themes.bootstrap3.article.details##

References
Amigos de la Tierra (2010) Modelos de agricultura en tiempos de crisis. Madrid: Amigos de la Tierra España.
Aronowitz, S. (1988) Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology in Modern Society. Minnesota: University of
Minnesota Press
Beddoe, R., Costa nza, R., Farleya, J., Garzaa, E., Kent, J., Kubiszewskia, I., Martineza, L., McCowen, T.,
Murphy, K., Myerse, N., Ogden, Z., Sta pleton, K. and Woodward, J. (2009) Overcoming systemic roadblocks
to sustainability: the evolutionary redesign of worldviews, institutions and technologies, Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(8), pp. 2483–2489.
Bernal, V. (1990) The politics of research on agricultural development: an instructive example from the
Sudan, American Anthropologist, NS 92(3), pp. 732–739.
Busch, L. (1984) Science, technology, agriculture, and everyday life, in: Schwarzweller, H.K. (ed.) Focus on
Agriculture. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, pp. 289–314.
Busch, L. and Lacy, W.B. (1983) Science, Agriculture, and the Politics of Research. Boulder, CO: Westview
Press.
Consta nza, R. (2008) Stewardship for a ‘full’ world, Current History, 107, pp. 30–35.
Ericksen, P.E. (2008) What is the vulnerability of a food system to global environmental change?, Ecology
and Society, 13(2), pp. 14–31.
Escobar, A. (1994) Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press.
ETC Group (2009) Who Will Feed Us? Questions for the Food and Climate Crises, ETC Group Communiqué
102. Published online _Feed_Us.pdf>.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organizat ion of the United Nat ions) (2008) FAO Mission, Constitution and
Governance. Rome: FAO.
Fjelsted, H. and Kristensen, E.S. (2002) Towards a systemic research methodology in agriculture: rethinking
the role of values in science, Agriculture and Human Values, 19 pp. 3–23.
FOEI (Friends of the Earth Internat ional) (2008) Food Sovereignty Program. Amsterdam: Friends of the
Earth International.
Funtowicz, S.O. and Rav etz, J.R. (1990) Uncertainty and Quality in Science for Policy. Dordrecht: Kluwer
Academic Publishers.
Gelcich, S., Hughes, T.P., Olsson, P., Folke, C., Defeo, O., Fernández, M., Foale, S., Gunderson, L.H., Rodríguez-
Sickert, C., Scheffer, M., Steneck, R.S. and Castilla, J.C. (2010) Navigating transformations in
governance of Chilean marine coastal resources, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(39),
pp. 167–194.
Godfray, H.C.J., Beddington, J.R., Crute, I.R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J.F., Pretty, J., Robinson, S.,
Thomas, S.M. and Toulmin, C. (2010) Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people, Science,
327, pp. 813–818.
Kuhn, T.S. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Kloppenburg, J., Jr. (1991) Social theory and the de/reconstruction of agricultural science: local knowledge
for an alternative agriculture, Rural Sociology, 56(4), pp. 519–548.
Lat our, B. (1987) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press.
Leach, M., Scoones, I. and Stirling, A. (2010) Governing epidemics in an age of complexity: Narratives,
politics and pathways to sustainability, Global Environmental Change, 20, pp. 369–377.
Mann, C. (1997) Reseeding the green revolution, Science, 277(5329), pp. 1038–1043.
McIntyre, B.D., Herren, H.R., Wakhungu, J. and Wat son, R.T. (eds) (2009) International Assessment of Agricultural
Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD): Global Report. Washington, DC:
Island Press.
Morin, E. (1992) From the concept of system to the paradigm of complexity, Journal of Social and Evolutionary
Systems, 15(4), pp. 371–385.
Morini, C. and Fumagalli, A. (2010) Life put to work: towards a life theory of value, Ephemera: Theory &
Politics in Organization, 10(3/4), pp. 234–252.
Mulkay, M. (1979) Science and the Sociology of Knowledge. London: George Allen & Unwin.
O’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaards, L.P. and Schjolden, A. (2007) Why different interpretations of vulnerability
matter in climate change discourses, Climate Policy, 7, pp. 73–88.
OECD (Organisat ion for Economic Co-operat ion and Development) (1999) Modern Biotechnology and the
OECD. Paris: OECD.
OECD (Organisat ion for Economic Co-operat ion and Development) (2008) Agriculture: Improving Policy
Coherence for Development. Paris: OECD.
Pahl-Wostl, C. (2007) The implications of complexity for integrated resources management, Environmental
Modelling and Software, 22, pp 561–569.
Rajan, K.S. (2003) Genomic capital: public cultures and market logics of corporate biotechnology, Science
as Culture, 12(1), pp. 87–121.
Rammel, C., Sta gl, S. and Wilfing, H. (2007) Managing complex-adapative systems: a co-evolutionary
perspective on natural resources management, Ecological Economics, 63, pp. 9–21.
Rivera-Ferre, M.G. and Ortega-Cerdà, M. (2011) Recognising ignorance in decision-making: strategies for
a more sustainable agriculture, EMBO reports, 12(5), pp. 393–397.
Sanchez, P., Swaminat han, M.S., Dobie, P. and Yuksel, N. (2005) Halving Hunger: It Can Be Done. London:
Earthscan.
Talja, S., Tuominen, K. and Sav olainen, R. (2005) ‘Isms’ in information science: constructivism, collectivism
and constructionism, Journal of Documentation, 69, pp. 79–101.
Thompson, J. and Scoones, I. (2009) Addressing the dynamics of agri-food systems: an emerging agenda
for social science research, Environmental Science and Policy, 12(4), pp. 386–397.
Turner, B.L.I., Kasperson, R.E., Mat son, P.A., McCarthy, J.J., Corell, R.W., Christensen, L., Eckely, N.,
Kasperson, J.X., Luers, A., Martello, M.L., Colin, P., Pulsipher, A. and Schiller, A. (2003) A framework
for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
100(14), pp. 8074–8079.
UN (United Nat ions) (2010) Preliminary Study of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee on Discrimination
in the Context of the Right to Food. Presented at Human Rights Council, Thirteenth session, New
York, 22 February.
Vía Campesina (1996) Declaración de Tlaxcala de la Via Campesina. Presented at II Conferencia Internacional
de La Vía Campesina, Tlaxcala, 18–21 Abril.
Weingart, P. (1999) Scientific expertise and political accountability: paradoxes of science in politics, Science
and Public Policy, 26(3), pp. 151–161.
Woodhill, J. and Röling, N.G. (1998) The second wing of the eagle: the human dimension in learning our
way to more sustainable futures, in: Röling N.G. and Wagemakers M.A.E. (eds) Facilitating Sustainable
Agriculture: Participatory Learning and Adaptive Management in Times of Environmental Uncertainty. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
World Bank (2008) Agriculture for Development: World Development Report 2008. Washington, DC: World
Bank.
Wynen, J. and Vanzetti, D. (2002) Certified organic agriculture: situation and outlook, in: N. El-Hage Scialabba
and C. Hatta m (eds) Organic Agriculture, Environment and Food Security. Rome: FAO.
Ziegler, J. (2008) Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights, Including the Right to Development. Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler.
Presented at Human Rights Council, Seventh session, New York, 10 January.
Section
Articles