Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) in Calabria. A sociological exploration of interaction dynamics

Promovendus ms. S (Simona) D'Amico
Promotor JSC (Han) Wiskerke
Copromotor BB (Bettina) Bock
S (Stefano) Pascucci PhD
Copromotor prof. G Gulisano
Organisatie Wageningen University, Leerstoelgroep Rurale sociologie

di 28 april 2015 11:00 tot 12:30

Locatie Aula, gebouwnummer 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
6703 BG Wageningen


This thesis aims at advancing the understanding of identities and roles of non-mainstream food systems (AFNs). It focuses on AFNs which operate in the context of rather traditional agrifood systems, engage in both food provisioning and raising civic awareness, and collaborate with a wide range of actors, such as producers, consumers, civil society organisations and institutions. In particular, the research studies an AFN - GAS M - in Calabria - Southern Italy - by shedding light on the dynamics of interaction during the organisation and implementation of its activities. The main findings are the following. The identity of GAS M is continuously re-shaped in response to the varying combination of material and civic activities and interests. When civic activities and interests prevail the equity of the GAS M food provisioning system is reduced as well as its role in satisfying producers and consumers’ material needs. While its engagement in building community is supported, its sustainability and likelihood to expand are limited.


  1. Analysing Alternative Food Networks by interviewing participants in the network on their motivation to participate in the network produces social desirable answers and rationalisations of behaviour. (this thesis)
  2. Choosing for the most optimal politico-societal point of sales does not always result in the most optimal commercial location for sales as it excludes the wealth of potential consumers that are truly interested in the product but are not connected to idiosyncrasy of the in-crowd market. (this thesis)
  3. When modern initiatives seek to rediscover traditions, the pureness of the original tradition is forgone since its spontaneity is lost for ever.
  4. Even when they intend to combine quantitative and qualitative research methods, many scientists rather use different methods of data collection and analysis within either a quantitative or qualitative approach.
  5. The requirement of the Wageningen University to submit propositions for a thesis is as much a prerogative to become part of the Dutch cultural network as is writing poems for the Saint Nicolas gift giving ceremony.  
  6. Teaching people that crooked cucumbers are as tasty and healthy as the straight ones is a better strategy to contribute to sustainable food provisioning than struggling to find the most sustainable technologies to make straighter cucumbers.