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Ethical Values in a Post-Industrial Economy: The Case of the Organic Farmers’ Market in Granada (Spain)

Alfredo Macías Vázquez & José Antonio Morillas del Moral (2022)

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 35(9), pp. 1-19.

Abstract. The importance of the collective management of immaterial resources is a key variable in the valorisation of products in a post-industrial economy. The purpose of this paper is to analyse how, in post-industrial economies, it is possible to devise alternative forms of mediation between producers and consumers, such as organic farmers’ markets, to curb the appropriation of rent by transnational and/or local business elites from the value created by immaterial resources. More specifically, we analyse those aspects of the collective management of ethical values that, in the case of organic farmers’ markets, can be a strategic source of competitive advantage for local producers. In this paper, the Ecomercado de Granada is studied as an example of mediation between production and consumption in a post-industrial economy.

Extract: “Thus, common immaterial resources are the result of the historical crystallisation of a set of practices, social relationships, physical qualities, and ideas developed by a human group, which can be perceived by other groups, markets or states as ‘different’, and therefore be subject to a process of enhancement (Kaljonen, 2006).
This is what Boltanski and Esquerre (2017) call “enriched objects”. Goods are not valued for their utility or resistance, as is the case of standard industrial products, but for being new or different. They are often associated with national identity markers, to guarantee their “authenticity”. There is an intense demand for differentiation and demassification, as the capitalist system undergoes a process of endogenization (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2002). In order to claim a label of authenticity, goods need to come from outside the material sphere, in the so-called “deposits of authenticity”, which are spaces outside the commercialised sphere and, in most cases, can be linked to the traditions and customs of the different societies (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2002). Enriched objects coming from a deposit of authenticity are given, at least tacitly, a higher value than that of products of the commercial sphere. An immaterial aspect is also attached to them making them interesting during the process of commercialisation (Boltanski & Esquerre, 2017). The commercialisation of the authentic products enables a re-launch of the transformation process of a non-commercialised sphere into a capitalistic one, which is one of the main drivers of capitalism, in order to face the threat of the mass consumption crisis looming since the 1970’s (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2002).” (p. 5)

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