Conceptual Framework

Filippo Arfini, Federico Antonioli, Michele Donati, Matthew Gorton, Maria Cecilia Mancini, Barbara Tocco & Mario Veneziani (2019)

In: Arfini F., Bellassen V. (eds) Sustainability of European Food Quality Schemes. Springer, Cham

Abstract. This chapter summarizes the concepts underlying the sustainability of food products that have a Food Quality Scheme designation. It provides the basis for understanding which factors influence the sustainability of Food Quality Schemes in their economic, social and environmental dimensions: the quality and its perception by the consumer; the value chain and its ability to deliver value added to producers; the territory in its ability to characterize, qualify and manage food production; and the role of governance actions. The chapter thus presents an innovative conceptual framework which is useful for assessing sustainability, which embeds the value chain into the territorial dimension under a new endogenous development model.

Excerpt. “The theory of conventions offers a way to understand the worth related to food production, especially since it can be adapted to food markets and policy beyond the level of formal institutions and decisions (Boltanski and Thevenot 1991). Convention theory assumes quality to be the central “point of reference” of the conventional agreement in a food market, depending on many factors which are linked to juridical, economic and political purposes. Quality is then a two-sided concept, one aspect referring to a formal , institutional perspective (law and regulatory arrangements) and, the other, where expectations of quality emerge within an unforeseen frame, based on implicit agreements. In the first case, the regulations are well known before judgement; in the second case, there is a constant dynamism, determined by different rules, norms and conventions. Convention theorists consider “quality” associated with goods as a matter of conventions, linking social behaviour to specific identification models (or personal beliefs) between people, more than to social facts or market interests. According to Salais and Storper (1993), conventions constitute a system of rules that all involved actors respect and follow and which evolve over time (Storper and Salais 1997). Salais and Storper (I 993) proposed that four “possible worlds of production” explain the quality of a product, where each of them is supported by at least two types of conventions. The model is represented by two axes: one spanning from a dedicated to a generic produc1ion and the other extending from a specialised to a standardised production.”

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