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Organising organic: a Foucauldian analysis of the regulation of organic food production

By Diane Elizabeth Skinner


Early in the life of this thesis, Britain became the world's third largest consumer of organic produce with sales of organic food exceeding one billion pounds. Drawing on a conceptual framework based on Foucault's texts, the research investigates this little word "organic" and asks how organic food production is regulated. The empirical study begins with a genealogy/archaeology of organic farming regulation, including very recent history in the making during the research period. Using Foucault's concepts of code- and ethics-oriented morality and focusing on self-regulation, the study considers commitment to organic farming by producers as ethical subjects. An ethnography carried out within a self-managing cooperative organic farming community shifts the research to a local level. The research investigates the various organic truths produced by individuals through subjectivisation-objectivisation interplay. The code-oriented morality of the Soil Association is an absent presence that is at variance with a looser set of values and rules associated with the self-sufficiency movement and handed down as an oral tradition. Within a heterogeneity of organic, the care of the self practice parrhesia is used to analyse how community members establish collective organic farming practices through decision-making practices. \ud The research uncovers the hidden complexities and ambiguities embedded in organic food production. The thesis reveals too how power relations are at play within the context of equality in a headless organisation. The thesis addresses the under-researched area of agriculture within business schools. Moreover, the thesis provides a comprehensive and accessible working example of Foucault's main themes and contributes to an emerging body of work based on the interplay of subjectivisation and objectivisation. Finally, the thesis contributes an empirical study of self-management to the emerging research field within Critical Management Studies of alternative organisational forms

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  6. (2005). Rural Communities: Forward Not Back, Labour Party Rural Manifesto.

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