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The Responsibilisation of food security: what is the problem represented to be?

  • Year: 2013
  • Author: Amber Bastian and John Coveney
  • Journal Name: Health Sociology Review
  • Journal Number: Vol. 22, No. 2

Food security is an evolving concept with various definitions and associated meanings. The way food security is understood by policy-makers impacts on how it gets addressed in public policy. This research uses an interpretive approach to uncover how food security is represented by stakeholders. Semi structured interviews were conducted with 24 stakeholders in South Australia between June and September 2010. The findings reveal four dominant representations for food security that locate responsibility for the issue across different stakeholders, namely individuals, governments, communities and private enterprise. These representations hold different underlying assumptions about the role of government in addressing the issue; the neo-liberal perspective supports a reduced role for government whereas the social determinants of health perspective calls for greater government intervention. Food security activists may need a greater awareness of how they represent the issue in order to change public policy action in this area. The approach taken in this research is relevant to other public policy problems and contexts.

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