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Circuits alimentaires alternatifs et transition du régime de "provision". Etude sociotechnique dans le contexte francilien.

Abstract : Can the food system change ? As they formulate criticisms toward the regime which dominates food provision, alternative phenomena have, for over twenty years now, suggested that the sustainability, quality, and transparency of food provisioning could improve by shortening relations between producers and consumers. The discourses, practices, and innovations of such Alternative Food Networks (“AFN”) generate, through multiple oppositions to the industrial food provision regime, frictions among the latter. Having witnessed spectacular developments these past few years bringing quite a heterogeneous variety of AFN to the fore, this regime has begun to undergo a series of internal questionings and takes on local food. The theorization of these frictions can benefit advantageously from the Multi Level Perspective (“MLP”), a theoretical and methodological framework for research in transitions studies, which enables an evolutionist read on sociotechnical regimes, in particular regarding their relations with alternative, innovative niches. With the help of robust sociohistoric analysis and fieldwork, it then becomes possible to reflect upon the modalities which could bring about a food provision regime transition through the shortening of links between producers and eaters.The thesis thus proposes two analytical foci: the food provision regime; and Alternative Food Networks. It calls upon a composite methodology to address data which are very heterogeneous in nature and stem from distributed empirical fields: discourse analysis through lexicometrics, the analysis of digital traces, the study of institutional displays, in-depth interviews, and ethnography-inspired observations. Aiming at meso-level theorizations, the thesis targets – as they question themselves on local food issues – key actors representative of several competencies, which fulfill major functions in the provision regime: retail; fruit and vegetable supply; institutional food fairs. The alternative objects report, through their study, a multiplicity of forms of existence. Because these alternatives are partially intertwined with certain devices from the dominant regime, this leads the thesis toward the in-depth study of one of these AFN, which is very particular in that (i) its architecture stems from a hybrid between food alternatives and digital-material networks enabled through technological platforms, and (ii) the dataset which it offers is of unusually high standard.Through this distributed empirical approach, the thesis contributes to the characterization of a transition toward a digital-material provision regime based on prosumption through transparent customization. Dating the regime’s inflection point to the late 2000s, the conjunction of a crisis in the provision model with the explosion of digital flows as well as the continuous expansion of claims and practices in the realm of alternatives, appear to be able to quicken the pace of a transition pathway through a reconfiguration of the regime. The premise of this reconfiguration manifests itself through multiple evolutions in discourse which can be scrutinized within the regime, as well as the incorporation and the redisplay, in the realm of the regime, of alternative phenomena which participate increasingly in the characterization of new priorities which now redefine food specifications, provision practices, and provision flows. The accrued value of food products enriched with new alternative specifications which are conveyed through new virtual and material proximities thus intimate the regime to interrogate itself on the potential offered by the shortening of provision. Bridging three investigative fields (transitions; Alternative Food Networks; prosumption) which are, as of yet, relatively disconnected, the thesis thus opens research perspectives on the capacities through which such shortened markets may be able to capture the attention of food prosumers who likewise, are very much thriving.
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Raphaël Stephens. Circuits alimentaires alternatifs et transition du régime de "provision". Etude sociotechnique dans le contexte francilien.. Sociologie. Institut agronomique, vétérinaire et forestier de France, 2020. Français. ⟨NNT : 2020IAVF0002⟩. ⟨tel-02889441⟩

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