Dr Jonathan Beacham

Research Topic Title: Organising food differently: investigating ‘alternatives’, dietary change and sustainable food futures

My research asks how we can organise the food system differently such that we can build more sustainable food futures. Based in the School of Management at the University of Bristol, my research builds on transdisciplinary debates from within sociology, human geography and organisation studies. Today, it is increasingly evident that people’s relationships to food, and their diets, are shifting in response to a range of profound global challenges, including climate change, declining soil fertility and collapsing insect populations. Taken together, these risk undermining our ability to sustain human life on this planet. With these challenges in mind, and in a world increasingly divided into the ‘stuffed’ and the ‘starved’, we need to explore ways in which we might address these profound ills in the global food system.

To date, and in response to this problem, my research has focused on Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) in a global context. Broadly speaking, AFNs can be understood as examples of attempts to organise the food system differently outside of the everyday context of the supermarket. AFNs, I suggest, may serve to foster different relationships to food. These networks include organisations such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes, direct producer—consumer linkages, local markets, and food co-operatives. During my fellowship, I intend to extend my research by focusing more extensively on changes within the mainstream food system, with particular interest in the rapidly expanding global markets for ‘meat alternatives’, in exploring the extent to which these might contribute to more sustainable food futures.

Mentor: Professor David M. Evans

Publications

Beacham, J 2018, ‘Organising food differently: towards a more-than-human ethics of care for the Anthropocene’, Organization, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 533-549.

Martindale, L, Matacena, R & Beacham, J 2018, ‘Varieties of Alterity: Alternative Food Networks in the UK, Italy and China’, Sociologia Urbana e Rurale, vol. 115, no. S1, pp. 27-41.

E-mail: j.beacham@bristol.ac.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jonnybeacham