Topic: Ambivalences in the Governmentality of Alternative Food Networks: convenience, social selectivity and marketability
Recently, a number of resourceful community-driven initiatives for local food production
and retail have arisen in Luxembourg, where low organic agricultural rates are paired with
high consumer demands for organic produce. The main impact that heterodox actors can
have seems to be the creation of resourcefulness from innovative niches, not designed to be
upscaled but spread by ubiquitous networking. The motivations of actors involved in such
social movements, albeit diverse, tend to stem from a stance of care and ethical
(self)government, often using community self-organisation-tools.
Based on qualitative interviews and participant observation, we expand on four case studies
of fruit and vegetable production as well as unpackaged and socially responsible food retail
in Luxembourg. One has been established since the 1980s with over 200 employees, partly
in social insertion measures, producing and importing organic fruit and vegetables. Since
2014, three significantly smaller initiatives with higher citizen involvement have emerged.
These recent initiatives are more radical in their agro-ecological and/or permaculture
practices, proposing a political enacting of circular economy precepts.
Yet, daily practices stay embedded in social, cultural and economic constraints and in
routines, which are built on tacit knowledge and engrained convenience. By analysing ethical
entrepreneurship and the governmentality at its core as well as ambivalences and paradoxes
within convenience, social selectivity and marketability, this paper touches on interrelations
between food policies and the politics of contested claims for, and practices of, social and