Stefano Ponte (2016)
Journal of Rural Studies, 44, pp. 12-23.
Abstract. In the past two decades, convention theory has been applied in various branches of agro-food studies, providing analytical and theoretical insight for examining alternative food networks, coordination and governance in agro-food value chains, and the so-called ‘quality turn’ in food production and consumption. In this article, I examine convention theory applications in the Anglophone literature on agro-food studies through the review of 51 relevant contributions. I highlight how CT has helped explain different modes of organization and coordination of agro-food operations in different places, and how it has provided new venues of approaching quality – in view of understanding how exchange of agro-food products takes place and with what social and power dynamics. I trace two main analytical streams of this literature: one focussing on agro-food adaptations of the ‘worlds of production’ framework (Salais and Storper, 1992; Storper and Salais, 1997); and another applying the ‘orders of worth’ approach of Boltanski and Thevenot (1991) and further elaborations of ‘quality conventions’. After tracing broad trajectories and the significance of new developments in this literature, I highlight its current limitations and suggest some directions for future research.