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A relational perspective on the dynamics of the organic sector in Austria, Italy, and France

Abstract : Despite a common legal framework at EU-level, organic farming has developed differently in Member States. Previous analyses showed the influence of various factors on the development of the organic sector, including public policies, discourses, and marketing channels. Building on a relational perspective, we propose a conceptual framework that provides a situated understanding of national trajectories. We argue that the organic sector emerges based on relations between organic actors, policymakers, mainstream farmers associations, ad-vocacy groups, and actors along the food chain. Based on these relations, we analyse the development of the organic sector in Austria, Italy, and France. We show that its dynamics result from a complex and evolving intertwining of relations over time. These dynamics are unpredictable, as they depend on whether and how actors can build and maintain relations between organic agriculture and broader issues in the agrifood system, such as the maintenance of family farms, environmental protection, gastronomic heritage, fairness in the food chain, or export promotion. The relational perspective highlights the historicity of relations, as well as the extent to which relations are influenced by the temporal and the spatial context. By framing the agrifood system as an ensemble of emergent social practices rather than a field of invariant logic and automatic unfoldings, the re-lational perspective emphasises the importance of seizing windows of opportunity, and the role of creativity in actions.
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Ika Darnhofer, Simona d'Amico, Eve Fouilleux. A relational perspective on the dynamics of the organic sector in Austria, Italy, and France. Journal of Rural Studies, Elsevier, 2018, 68, pp.200-212. ⟨10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.12.002⟩. ⟨hal-01971731⟩

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