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  3. The Politics of Food

The Politics of Food (FOOD90041)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeFOOD90041
Semester 1
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Formerly FOOD90026

This subject examines the politics of the global food system, and will focus on the policies, structures, power relations and political debates surrounding the production, distribution and consumption of food. The impacts of food production and consumption on food security, health, the environment, animal welfare, and the livelihoods of producers, will be critically explored. Key theoretical frameworks and concepts for understanding the dominant paradigms and dynamics of the food system will be discussed and evaluated. Integrated policies and strategies for creating more sustainable and equitable food systems, and alternative paradigms and practices of production, distribution and consumption, will also be critically examined. This subject will primarily draw on theories and methodologies from the sociology and politics of food and agriculture, food policy, and the political economy and political ecology of food.

The topics and debates covered include:

  • Food policy and governance at the global, national and local levels
  • Food security, food sovereignty and the Global Food Crisis
  • Global trading relations, free trade and fair trade
  • Environmental impacts and sustainable forms of food production and consumption
  • Animal production, factory farms and animal welfare
  • Supermarkets and alternative retailing and distribution networks
  • Agricultural paradigms and technologies: chemical-industrial agriculture, genetically modified foods, organic agriculture and agroecology
  • Corporate concentration within and across sectors of the food system
  • Competition for food and land: animal feed, biofuels and land-grabbing
  • Food processing, food marketing, dietary advice and health
  • Local and urban food production and planning
  • Alternative paradigms and networks of food production, distribution and consumption

Intended learning outcomes

Upon completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Describe and analyse the food security, environmental, socio-economic, and animal welfare issues and debates related to the production, processing, distribution, retailing and consumption of food
  • Describe and analyse the policies, power relations, socio-economic structures, and practices that shape systems of food production, distribution and consumption
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the key frameworks, concepts and arguments in the politics, sociology, policy, public health, and political ecology of food literature

Last updated: 3 April 2019