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Negotiating perceptions of local food production and sustainability in local-level food strategies: an examination of five UK food coalitions

Page, D. (2020). Negotiating perceptions of local food production and sustainability in local-level food strategies: an examination of five UK food coalitions. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This research was set within the growing movement of UK communities joining the Sustainable Food Places (SFP) Network and developing food policies. As an examination of local food policy development, it examined five cases from within the SFP Network (Bristol, Belfast, Bath and Northeast Somerset, Durham and Devon). These cases represent three different coalition structures, ranging from Council-led to Civil society-led and a hybrid partnership.

This dissertation has examined how the concept of sustainability, and local food production (LFP) actions were understood and linked by Civil Society (CS) and Local Authority (LA) actors to achieve local objectives, and how these were translated into local food strategies (LFSs). Attention was given to the dynamics of the coalition model as actors’ beliefs were negotiated in the process.

This research has drawn on the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) developed by Sabatier (1988), with case study coalitions categorized according to a food policy group model developed by MacRae and Donahue (2013). Actors’ beliefs were identified as 1) unsustainable issues, 2) food production actions, and 3) sustainable outcomes drawing on diagnostic, prognostic and motivational frames, respectively, offered by Snow and Benford (1988).

This research found that LFSs of the case studies were shaped based on their context as either rural, peri-urban, or urban, the unique circumstances and issues of communities, and the coalition structure driving the effort. This was reflected by the pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environmental) being skewed to local needs and capacity, rather than balanced. With issues largely identified as originating from the global level, this prompted a sense of powerlessness to address these, meaning actions were focused on local elements over which the municipality had some control. Uneven power dynamics existed in the coalition structures themselves, particularly for CS in council led efforts. Within coalitions, the complexity of the food system and sustainability were simplified for a variety of reasons and framed for the audience of the strategy. In addition to deliberate use of frames, this approach was employed to mobilise support and action and to appeal to the strategy audience(s).

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
[thumbnail of Page, Daphne_PhD 2021 Final City University.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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