A call for the Journal “Studi di sociologia”
Special issue “Food consumption and sustainability. Social representations, public discourses and individual narrations”
Deadline for abstract: 15th July 2023.
Veronica Allegretti, Carlo Genova, Silvia Mazzucotelli Salice, Eleonora Noia, Alessia Toldo (University of Milan Cattolica, University of Turin)
Sustainability is among the main topics which have been debated in political and public discourse during the last decades: not by chance United Nations Agenda 2030 put Sustainability at the core of its Development Goals. Food, in all its different dimensions (production, processing, distribution, consumption, disposal), is one of the issues at the core of this debate. Talking about sustainability in the context of food implies considering a wide range of imaginaries, representations, narratives but also practices that spread across individual, organisational and political levels.
But what do we talk about referring to “food sustainability”? In particular referring to food consumption? As it is well known, the concept of sustainability has fuzzy boundaries and different possible declensions, even considering a single field. Individual and social definitions and representations of sustainability have a strong influence both on individual choices and on public policies: depending on how sustainability, as well as its drivers, are defined, different practices will be embraced, different strategies of intervention and improvement will be developed, different criteria of evaluation will be adopted.
Moreover, these variable declensions also reveal contradictory and critical aspects. Within the rhetoric of food sustainability, political issues related to environmental transitions, responsible consumption and nutritional changes are thus often addressed through discipline-based discourses. This normative approach focuses on the one hand on the imperative need to move towards a more sustainable food system, but on the other hand implies a moral and individual burden, which generates a sense of guilt and shame associated with not adopting (or not adopting enough of) healthy and sustainable diets (Jensen 2019).
At the same time, individual discourses and representations associate the choice of highly sustainable food styles with differentiated reasons and meanings. However, the sphere of motivations for sustainable food consumption only partly involves ethical or political reasons: from this point of view, both in the production, distribution and consumption of sustainable food, the needs for self-expression, socio-cultural positioning and identity construction appear increasingly relevant.
Aim of the special issue is to reflect upon how individuals and organisations talk about sustainability, and what imaginaries, social representations and narrations emerge from their discourses. Following this perspective, contributions (both based on field research and theoretical) on how individuals represent their attitudes and practices concerning food sustainability, as well as works on public discourses, imaginaries and idealisations of food sustainability, are welcomed.