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Countercultural convenience: access to Ďalternative' food system quality attributes online


Wills, B, Countercultural convenience: access to alternative' food system quality attributes online, XXVI ESRS Congress Book of Abstracts: Places of Possibility? Rural Societies in a Neoliberal World, 18-21 August 2015, Aberdeen, Scotland, pp. 46. (2015) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

PDF (Conference paper presented at the XXVI conference of the European Society of Sociology)
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PDF (Published Abstract)
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Despite the growth of Alternative Food System (AFS) manifestations such as farmers' markets and consumer food co-operatives, evidence exists to suggest these provisioning systems remain the preserve of relatively affluent consumers. At the same time, the growing popularity of internet enabled e-commerce is resulting in fundamental changes to many markets, including claims that there is a structural shift by consumers away from mass marketed products towards niche markets, such as those which characterise AFS. This paper explores these issues and offers new insight into how e-commerce, as a transformative innovation, might attract more resource constrained consumers to AFS while also retaining the quality conventions which currently mark AFS as Ďalternative'.

To demonstrate this possibility, a new theoretical model is advanced which incorporates both the language of AFS, as well as the neoliberal language of firm level strategy as it relates to e-commerce and niche markets. This capacity stems from a novel integration of Michael Porter's theory of generic strategy, the product lifecycle theory and French conventions theory. The latter is particularly useful as a tool for highlighting differences in production systems based upon different consumer and producer quality conventions.

Empirical data from a survey of 375 consumers who regularly acquired food through either ecommerce or non e-commerce mediated AFS is also presented. This data is useful for testing the validity of the proposed theoretical model.

In conclusion, this paper addresses how e-commerce is altering consumer access to AFS, including in ways which have a neoliberalising influence on Ďalternative' quality attributes.

Item Details

Item Type:Non Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:Alternative food systems, internet commerce, access equity, conventions theory
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Economic development policy
Objective Division:Economic Framework
Objective Group:Microeconomics
Objective Field:Supply and demand
UTAS Author:Wills, B (Dr Benjamin Wills)
ID Code:113634
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Australian Innovation Research Centre
Deposited On:2017-01-10
Last Modified:2017-01-16

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