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What is the potential of Community Supported Agriculture to promote resilience and contribute to transition in the UK?

Humphrey, Ian (2017) What is the potential of Community Supported Agriculture to promote resilience and contribute to transition in the UK? PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis interrogates the potential of, and constraints upon, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to effect socio-cultural and political change in the UK. CSA is a potentially transformative yet under-developed model of agriculture that seeks to redress a range of social, economic, and environmental problems associated with conventional agriculture. There are fewer than 100 schemes in the UK at present, a total comparable to that in North America approximately 20 years ago where numbers now exceed 6000. This study, in part, addresses the potential of CSA to ‘scale up’ and ‘scale out’ across the UK. My methodology consisted of an extended ethnographic comparison of two nascent and contrasting CSA schemes in rural west Wales and peri-urban south Yorkshire. My research methods comprised a 2 year-long participant observation as a member of the executive body of both case studies and simultaneous in-depth interviews with key CSA participants. I argue that the community of CSA is reciprocally reproduced at multiple scales from the local to the global. I contend that CSA depends on different forms of social capital for its constitution and reproduction, although social capital is a limited and unreliable resource that, depending on its availability, can encourage or hinder the development of CSA. I argue that the moral economy of CSA has inherent structural tensions between ethical and economic values that CSA schemes continually navigate through a spectrum of instrumental and collaborative approaches. I develop my previous arguments regarding the limits of social capital at my case studies and the immanent tension between instrumental and collaborative approaches to CSA to argue that both my CSAs had constrained capacity and were reliant on volunteerism to an extent that I characterised as a form of sacrifice. However both case studies retained a fragile and circumstantial resilience and exhibited potential to contribute to socio-technical transformation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Community Supported Agriculture, UK, transition
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Geography (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.718842
Depositing User: Dr Ian Humphrey
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2017 14:52
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:41
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17846

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