The ‘Conventionalisation’ Thesis Reconsidered: Structural and Ideological Transformation of Australian Organic Agriculture
Article first published online: 24 NOV 2005
Volume 45, Issue 4, pages 284–307, October 2005
How to Cite
Lockie, S. and Halpin, D. (2005), The ‘Conventionalisation’ Thesis Reconsidered: Structural and Ideological Transformation of Australian Organic Agriculture. Sociologia Ruralis, 45: 284–307. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9523.2005.00306.x
- Issue published online: 24 NOV 2005
- Article first published online: 24 NOV 2005
In contrast with the uncritical optimism of popular narratives on organic food and agriculture, social scientists have debated at length the potential for the organic food sector to ‘conventionalise’; that is, to transform from an oppositional social movement promoting fundamentally different agroecologies and social relationships into a highly regulated and capital intensive food industry differing little from its conventional counterparts. Often, this is argued to result in a ‘bifurcation’ between industrial organic producers and a residual of small, artisanal social movement activists. Data from surveys of 397 certified organic and 434 conventional farmers in Australia call into question, however, the tendency of the bifurcation model to dichotomise small and large producers in this manner. Despite considerable polarisation in the economic scale of organic producers, there was no evidence that larger organic producers held significantly different values and beliefs to smaller organic growers. Nor were larger organic growers poised to capture greater market share through faster rates of expansion, or any less likely to support local consumption through sales direct to consumers.