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Constructing a National Food Policy: Integration Challenges in Australia and the UK

Parsons, K. (2018). Constructing a National Food Policy: Integration Challenges in Australia and the UK. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, Universtiy of London)


Calls for an integrated food policy to tackle the new fundamentals of the food system have been regularly made by academics, policymakers, the food industry and civil society for over a decade in many countries but, despite some changes, much of the old policy framework remains entrenched. This gap raises questions about why policy innovation has proved so difficult.

This study responded to that research problem through a qualitative, interpretivist comparative study of how two countries attempted to improve their policy integration, via two specific policy integration projects: the UK’s Food Matters/Food 2030 process (2008-2010) and Australia’s (2010-2013) National Food Plan. It applied a conceptual framework fusing historical institutionalism and the public policy integration literature, focusing on the policy formulation stage. Fieldwork was conducted in both countries, including interviews with key informants; and publically-available documents about the policy projects and broader policy systems were analysed.

The findings suggest the two policy projects represent a food policy shift from single-domain ‘policy taker’, towards multiple domain ‘policy maker’, but both fell short of what might be classed as ‘integration’ in the literature. The research identifies how tensions between domains are sidestepped, and makes broader propositions around how multiple values and goals co-exist in this contested policy space, and the need for improved value agreement capacity. It also highlights a general lack of focus on integration as a process. It explores how the legacy of historical fragmented approaches, plus political developments and decisions around institutional design, and a more general trend of hollowing out of national government, impact on how integrated food policy can be formulated in a particular country setting. It therefore proposes an emerging ‘institutionalist theory of food policy integration’, conceptualising the dimensions of integration, and multiple institutional influences on integration attempts.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Publisher Keywords: Australia, Food Policy Governance, Integration, Institutions, National Food Policy, UK
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
S Agriculture
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
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