Making the city smart from the grassroots up: The sustainable food networks of Bristol

Reed, Matt ORCID: 0000-0003-1105-9625 and Keech, Daniel ORCID: 0000-0003-4112-9030 (2019) Making the city smart from the grassroots up: The sustainable food networks of Bristol. City, Culture and Society, 16. pp. 45-51. doi:10.1016/j.ccs.2017.07.001

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Smart cities are known for their top-down focus on technology. This paper argues that emergent aspects of food policy in the UK can be understood as a social movement, which sustains development by way of bottom-up, horizontal networks of urban groups, and business associations. It suggests that as platforms of food provision, such on-line food networks offer a counter-point to top-down smart city development predicated on high-tech infrastructure. Such complex arrangements demonstrate how the city needs to be understood as a networked field of action, not simply an administratively bounded construction. Within the field of action movements emerge, whose activism is successful in influencing policymaking, and in shaping the municipal strategies assembled to build the regional structure of food provision. The caveat this paper highlights is that, although successful in influencing policy and municipal strategies, the activism of these movements has not been as effective as might have been anticipated from such a democratic impulse. This lack reflects the limited power of cities in the UK over the structure of food provision, but also the troubled extension of public participation into a territory marked by corporate and agricultural policy. The paper bases its claims about the nature of urban food policies in cities on a case study of networks in Bristol, including interviews with key activists, analysis social media networks and documents. The evidence supports claims that urban food developments represent a form of social movement, whose activism is democratic in its attempts to be both sustainable and inclusive.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Food activism; Sustainable food; Urban food policy; Bristol, United Kingdom; REF2021
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5428 Retail Trade
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2017 15:52
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2021 11:57

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