How Shall We Judge Agri-Food Governance? Legitimacy Constructions in Food Democracy and Co-Regulation Discourses

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

How Shall We Judge Agri-Food Governance? Legitimacy Constructions in Food Democracy and Co-Regulation Discourses


  • Julia Behringer Thaer Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany
  • Peter H. Feindt Thaer Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany


Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 1481 | Downloads: 804


Abstract:  The food democracy discourse has emerged as a normatively grounded critique of an increasingly transnational agri-food system and its dominant co-regulatory mode of governance, where private and public norms and standards interact with public policy and regulation in complex ways. Analyzing competing agri-food discourses through a legitimacy lens can contribute to understanding how authority is transferred from traditional, hierarchical and state-centered constellations to a range of novel agri-food governance arrangements. This article reconstructs and compares the legitimacy constructions articulated in the co-regulation and the food democracy discourses, generating three key findings: first, there are two distinct articulations of food democracy discourse, which we label liberal and strong food democracy; second, while conceptualizations of legitimacy in the liberal food democracy and the co-regulatory discourse share many commonalities, legitimacy in the co-regulatory discourse relies more heavily on output, while the liberal food democracy discourse is more sensitive to issues of input and throughput legitimacy; third, the strong food democracy discourse articulates a critical counter-model that emphasizes inclusive deliberation which in turn is expected to generate a shared orientation towards the common good and countervailing power.

Keywords:  agri-food governance; co-regulation; discourse; food democracy; governance; legitimacy; participation

Published:   28 October 2019


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v7i4.2087


© Julia Behringer, Peter H. Feindt. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.