Third-Party Certification in the Global Agrifood System: An Objective or Socially Mediated Governance Mechanism?
Article first published online: 26 FEB 2008
© 2008 The Authors
Volume 48, Issue 1, pages 73–91, January 2008
How to Cite
Hatanaka, M. and Busch, L. (2008), Third-Party Certification in the Global Agrifood System: An Objective or Socially Mediated Governance Mechanism?. Sociologia Ruralis, 48: 73–91. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9523.2008.00453.x
- Issue published online: 26 FEB 2008
- Article first published online: 26 FEB 2008
Third-party certification (TPC) is becoming an integral component of the global agrifood system. However, little is known about its functions, structures and practices. In this article we examine the emergence of TPC as a governance mechanism, its organisational structure, and its practices. Distinguishing between two forms of ‘independence’– organisational and operational – we argue that TPC exhibits organisational, but not operational independence. Thus, in contrast to the view of TPC as an objective governance mechanism, we argue that TPC is embedded in social, political and economic networks. This finding, we argue, raises questions as to how TPC is structured and operates, who gets to decide the ways it is structured and operates, and the ways that TPC might differentially impact on actors in the food and agricultural sector.