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The Hybrid Governance of Urban Food Commons. Evidence from the Brussels-Capital Region

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Manganelli, Alessandra
Conference: In Defense of the Commons: Challenges, Innovation and Action, the Seventeenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Lima, Peru
Conf. Date: July 1-5
Date: 2019
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10657
Sector: Agriculture
Region: Europe
Subject(s): commons
food supply
Abstract: "Over the last three decades a revival of food commoning initiatives has occurred. Reacting against shortcomings of conventional food chains, food commons pursue socio-political transformation in established food and socio-political systems, towards more empowering modes of local food systems’ governance. Drawing from the conceptual apparatus and empirical findings of my PhD research, this article aims to examine the critical governance tensions faced by food commoning initiatives as they diversely develop. In particular, three types of governance tensions are identified: organizational - i.e. tensions in governing the food network organizations as they diversely develop, build alliances and networks; resource - i.e. tensions in accessing and securing key resources (e.g. land, funding, material infrastructures, other key human and natural resources); and institutional - i.e. tensions related to institutionalization processes, and to the constraining or enabling role of key institutions with respect to the agency of local food networks. In the empirical part of this paper, these types of governance tensions and their interrelations are briefly analysed in three case studies of urban food networks in the Brussels-Capital Region (BCR): a Community Supported Agriculture Network called GASAP (Groupes d'Achat Solidaires de l'Agriculture Paysanne) active in the BCR; the multi-agent governance of the access to land for urban agriculture and its scaling out in the BCR; the contested dynamics of institutionalizing alternative food systems through the development and implementation of local food policies in the BCR. This article argues that the Hybrid Governance analysis provides a more nuanced and grounded characterization of the agency and socio-political dynamics of (food) commoning initiatives as they diversely develop and pursue socio-political change. In particular, the last part of this article discusses potential contributions of the Hybrid Governance analysis to studies on collective action initiatives in general. These contributions relate to a) a more complex characterization of the agency of collective action initiatives; b) a more sound analysis of the connections between value systems and cooperative practices; c) a better understanding of challenges and tensions experienced by self-organizing initiatives in exercising greater socio-political transformation."

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