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Workshop 2.6

Integrative and interdisciplinary approaches to the ecologisation of agrifood systems


Claire Lamine and Benoît Dedieu, INRA SAD
Gianluca Brunori, University of Pisa, Italy

If you have any questions regarding this workshop, please turn directly to the convenors by sending an email.


This workshop aims at discussing different integrative approaches to the processes of “ecologisation” of agrifood systems. We expect presentations of integrative approaches, which take into account the diversity of  social actors and institutions involved in these transitions and their interdependences, and/or they involve different scientific fields in order to tackle the various aspects of transitions.


Virtuous and environmental-friendly technological innovations in agriculture (as in other domains) are not enough to allow robust transitions of agrifood systems towards more sustainable patterns. Such transitions rely on a combination and a coordination of changes at all levels of these agrifood systems: farmers’ practices, food industry and retailers’ strategies, governance of research and extension, agricultural and rural development policies, consumers’ patterns, and civil society actions.
If most scholars and stakeholders would agree on the idea that transitions towards sustainable agriculture and agrifood systems should involve the whole socio-technical system linked to agriculture and food, there are various visions of the past, current and possible changes, based on different disciplinary backgrounds and ontologies. Some will focus on lock-in effects and path-dependency processes, others on the framing of problems and solutions, or on power relationships etc.

In the last two decades, a growing literature has been addressing these issues based on a diversity of theoretical frameworks and on numerous case studies at local, national and international scales.
This workshop aims at discussing different approaches to the processes of “ecologisation” of agrifood systems. We expect presentations of integrative approaches, in the sense that in the way they deal with transitions to sustainable food systems, they take into account a variety of interdependent social actors and institutions and/or they consider not only agricultural practices but also processing, marketing, and consumption issues and/or they involve different scientific fields in order to tackle all these various aspects of transitions.
For example, an integrative approach of fruit production at local scale could take into account questions at the cross-roads of different fields such as: are the available cultivars adapted to low input practices? Is the food chain likely to deal with products that may be less perfect? What might be the impact on farm viability, considering the variety of products on a given farm and the farmer’s tradeoffs between different constraints and opportunities? How should genetic innovation and evaluation be redesigned in order to take into account the adaptability to low input and organic farming as well as the constraints and diversity within the foodchain? How do public policies support or impede such evolutions at the different levels of the agrifood system?

The cases and approaches which will be presented should aim at fostering and facilitating discussions in the workshop about :

  1. theoretical frameworks (transition theories, actor-network theories, Efficience-Substitution-Redesign grid, treadmill of production, socioecological systems etc.);
  2. ways to combine different scientific and disciplinary perspectives; and
  3. ways to involve a diversity of stakeholders at the different level of the agrifood system in these analyses.

The idea is to build, based on a series of presentations, a collective reflexion on the way we as scientists choose specific theoretical frameworks, combine scientific disciplines and involve (or not) different types of social actors (scientists, farmers, advisors, civil society, policy makers etc.) in our approaches to more sustainable agrifood systems.

Workshop process

We plan to have oral presentations of all papers and a system of cross-reading (each paper should be read by 2 «discutants») that should allow collective discussions about theoretical frameworks, articulation of different scientific perspectives and involvement of stakeholders, in order to enhance reflexive perspectives on our approaches and positions.

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