Bra mat och dåliga varor : Om förtroendefulla relationer och oroliga reaktioner på livsmedelsmarknaden

Sammanfattning: This dissertation takes up the consequences of the transition from a traditional to a modern food system. According to some researchers, the modernization of food production has led to a crisis of confidence in today’s food system and consumers are said to experience alienation, gastro-anomie, and distrust towards food products (see Murcott, Mennell & Van Otterloo 1992; Fischler 1980; 1988). Popular confidence in rationalized production systems is threatened by the general criticism of the industry, as well as by new ideas about how food should be produced and consumed (see Beardsworth & Keil 1997). Popular trust in modern food production methods is eroded by a combination of facts and opinions put forward by a number different actors. Today’s food system is thus characterized by a tension between trust and mistrust. In the borderland between trust and distrust arises the need for new solutions. Through four empirical studies of different arenas in the market for food the reactions of various actors to the situation described above is investigated: (1) A survey carried out in Spring 1996 on how Swedish consumers reacted to the BSE crisis; (2) A participant observation study of a vegetarian cooking class analyzes how proposals for a new way of relating to food is conveyed and received; (3) A qualitative study of livestock farmers who sell their meat directly to consumers, focusing on both their view of this sales form and their contact with customers; (4) A qualitative study consisting of interviews with the managers of four fruit and vegetable farmers’ markets, in which further perspectives on farmer-direct vending are analyzed. This study even includes observations and interviews with patrons of these farmers’ markets to assess how consumers use this direct-vending alternative. The empirical studies show how a range of different actors deals with the current condition of the market for food. Peoples’ trust and distrust towards food is shown to consist of relations between people, between people and concrete situations, and between people and the specific preconditions of the food market. The dissertation shows that trust and distrust in relation to modern food should not be understood as a static, but rather a relational phenomenon. Ideas about “good food” and “bad products” are created through so-called social agreements that are reached, called into question and altered on a food market continuously in flux.

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