SAFRIG Mini Conference

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The Neoliberal Regime in Agri-Food: Crisis, Resilience and/or Restructuring

Mini-conference organized by the Rural Sociological Society

Sociology of Agri-food Research Interest Group (SAFRIG)

July 26, 2011

Palmer House, Chicago Illinois

You are invited to register and attend the SAFRIG mini-conference on The Neoliberal Regime in Agri-Food: Crisis, Resilience and/or Restructuring. This event will be held on July 26 (9:00 am 4:00 pm) at the Hilton Palmer House in Chicago. Discussion and paper presentations will continue throughout the SAFRIG regular RS sessions in the following conference days. Break food and coffee will be provided for those who register. Sign up by login to your account under Registration to indicate your participation. Registration is free, but participants and attendees need to register by June 15, 2012 so that they can be counted in.

For the last three decades, the Neoliberal regime has shaped production and consumption processes in agriculture and food. At present, social instability and protest, economic recessions, political uncertainties and ecological degradation and risks have prompted claims that we now confront a systemic crisis. The regulatory mechanisms and patterns of material flow that constitute the contemporary agri-food regime are implicated in contemporary global insecurities, both physical and metaphysical on an unprecedented scale. The capacity to maintain the legitimacy and material coherence of the neoliberal regime is in doubt. We propose a one-day mini-conference devoted to an informed, constructive dialogue and debate around the thesis that we have reached some institutional and material limit. Is the neoliberal regime exhausted? Are we at the outset of a new regime? And if so, what are the opportunities and risks linked to the construction of a new regime? Of course, in contemplating radical restructuring we must account for the historical capacity of agri-food governance to deflect critique, co-opt rivals and sustain the unsustainable. We seek to advance understanding of the evidence supporting claims of rupture of, or incursions to, the Neoliberal model. We also seek to encourage the submission of papers that develop programmatic outlines of pragmatic responses to these critiques including policy initiatives, social mobilization and research targeted at various scales and points of entry.

This mini-conference celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Rural Sociological Society and SAFRIG’s rich tradition of conceptualizing agriculture and food as reflecting and structuring larger developmental processes. We seek theoretical contributions that address overarching debates regarding systemic crisis, including papers that address financialization, ecological overshoot, the status of nation states, transnational agents, market logic and civil society in governance and the prospects for realization of democratic ideals. We also seek empirical contributions that explore particular aspects of crisis and responses, including the potential for continued resilience, a neo-productivist return, as well as the emergence of new alternative models and scaling up of new or existing alternative models.