Interested in Food and Place?

Are you interested in the sociological aspects of food provisioning and place-based development and want to know more about topics like place-based food systems, food citizenship, civic food networks, sustainable place-shaping, diverse economies, place branding and social movements? Then it may be a relevant for you to attend the MSc course ‘Sociology of Food Provisioning and Place-based Development’ that starts on Monday 17 March 2014. Lectures and workshops are held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for a period of 6 weeks. Included in the program is also a gastronomic excursion to rural estate Rhederoord, to experience the practice of place-making and enjoy the taste of place-based food products. Although registration for the course has formally closed you can still register for the course by sending an email to the course coordinator  ( For more information about the content of the course, the program and the literature, have a look at the Course Guide.

Master thesis experience in the US

A post by Max van Tilburg (MSc student International Development)


The nature of urban agriculture; initiatives in Lansing and Detroit, Michigan, United States

Urban agriculture over the past decennium has become very popular in the Western World, this brings up questions about the commonality between all these different initiatives. This question stood at the basis of my master thesis, and was translated to whether urban agriculture initiatives in Lansing and Detroit (Michigan, USA) could be seen as (being part of) a social movement.

Although the history and (organizational) background of the urban agriculture initiatives in Lansing and Detroit are very diverse, the similarity in practices, ideas and ideologies (both displayed in shared discourses and themes) was remarkably high. It turned out that community building with all its aspects is a first order concern for the initiatives, neighborhood organizations, a soup kitchen, private farmers, all practiced and expressed a major concern about working on the community.

On the overall I arrived at a point were I more or less hypothesize the same as Touraine (1998) did in his research on social movements; “that their ‘real’ purpose was a broad-based effort to oppose the corporate and government technocrats who initiated and directed most social change”.

Read more in my thesis!

Trendy food and food regime change?

Picture1During the nineties, we, urbanites, discovered the countryside anew. Farmers opened their stables and greenhouses for excursions, recreational activities such as ‘farm golf’ and camping at the farm became popular. That these farmers also produced food and where that food went to, was not so much considered. Often also not by the farmers themselves. The onion in bulk to the wholesale markets, the milk to the factory, the consumer at the farm gate for recreational activities; multifunctional farming. However, more and more the connection to the consumer happened through food too. Veggie boxes, fresh dairy directly from the farm. In small, it was always there already, but it has grown in public awareness ever since. Local food is now celebrated in magazines, in the supermarket, at the market, at fairs, in the newspaper, in policies. Continue reading

Convergence of food social movements, IRSA reflection 1

In Lisbon, Portugal, the World Congress of Rural Sociology is currently on. It is a stimulating week with researchers from all over the world in plenary sessions as well as smaller parallel groups where results and concepts are presented and discussed. While listening to some presentations, I had to think of the book “Food Movements Unite!” edited by Eric Holt-Giménez. Leaders of the food sovereignty movement talk about the future of the movement and about the need to unite. From the academic work currently presented, there seems to be hopeful news that this is happening. Patricia Allen explained how there is “basket of social movements in convergence” around food and agriculture in the US currently. Whereas the Sustainable Agriculture coalition would talk about environmental degradation and profitability of farm enterprises and certainly not about food security and social justice in a wider sense, this move is now being made. This makes linkages possible with the Community Food Security Movement. To describe this development, Patricia used the metaphor of a tree trunk with a non-negotiable core and branches with leaves of slightly different colour. Continue reading