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Convention theory in Anglophone agri-food studies: French legacies, circulation and new perspectives

Cheyns E., Ponte S.. 2019. In : Allaire Gilles (ed.), Daviron Benoit (ed.). Ecology, capitalism and the new agricultural economy: The second great transformation. Abingdon : Routledge, p. 71-94. (Critical Food Studies).

The French school of convention theory has influenced various branches of agro-food studies in the past two decades, as part of a wider trend in the Anglophone social sciences. It provided analytical and theoretical insight for examining alternative food networks, the 'quality turn' and various forms of coordination and governance in agro-food value chains. In this chapter, we examine how convention theory was introduced in Anglophone agro-food studies, and what results and patterns of diffusion have ensued. We discuss similarities and divergences that characterize the Anglophone literature in comparison to the French school, and highlight the new issues and approaches it introduced. We also reflect upon the extension of convention theory towards the related 'regimes of engagement' approach, which evolved from French pragmatic sociology. Finally, we highlight three further analytical, methodological and empirical developments that are needed to carry this research agenda forward.

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