Social movement organizations in the local food movement: linking social capital and movement support

Bauermeister, Mark
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Social movement actors seeking alternatives to the highly industrialized, global food system have been advocating for more sustainable, local food systems. Many of the local food movement strategies and initiatives to counter the conventional practices of the industrial food system have proven successful. Social movement researchers have documented the importance of the roles and services social movement organizations provide for movement constituents to realize their success, emphasizing human and financial capital as key components for mobilizing collective action. Researchers have also documented the value of interorganizational networks, and the benefits of collaboration to expand the share of resources, and perhaps more importantly design social movement frames to direct collective action for social change. However, what local food movement research has yet to address are some of the potential barriers that minimize collaboration among organizational leaders as it relates to social capital and collective identity. This dissertation takes a cross-sectional, network analysis of social movement organizations working to increase the sustainability of the local food system in Marin County, California, a historically agricultural region serving a number of urban communities. Findings from the mixed-methods research reveal evidence of collective identity and social capital as enhancing collaboration among particular types of organizations while reducing potential collaboration among and between other social movement organizations. By analyzing the collective identity and dichotomous nature of social capital among social movement organizations, this research contributes a clearer understanding of the existing gaps for realizing a more sustainable local food system.

Sociology, Sustainable Agriculture, collective action, collective identity, local food movement, social capital, social networks, sustainable local food system