Depletion of natural resources have become key issues on the European policy agenda. Bottom-up measures have emerged in several countries with a view to promoting awareness campaigns and practical actions with respect to environmental sustainability. All this has led to the creation of new strategies in the policies for consumption, redefining a new alternative geography of food and new opportunities for small enterprises excluded from globalization (Whatmore and Thorne, 1997; Miele, 1999; Murdoch e Miele, 1999; Murdoch et al., 2000). In the new emerging geography of food, the reincorporation of production processes and local consumption are spreading quickly assuming different forms such as the so-called Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) (Abatekassa and Peterson, 2011) or the much less analyzed Food Community Networks (FCNs) (Pascucci et al., 2013). FCNs differentiate from AFNs as in these experiences participants share both the benefits and cover expenses of the organization (Caracciolo and Lombardi, 2012). A common feature of the different forms of FCNs is an interesting relational structure that governs market transactions. Within FCNs, Italian Solidarity Purchase Groups (SPGs) are among the most representative relational forms with the objective to promote sustainable consumption (Brunori et al., 2011; Graziano and Forno, 2012; Migliore et al., 2013). The phenomenon of SPGs is continuously growing in Italy: in 2013, there were 974 active groups , which means that in the two last years they have increased by 22% and by 64% if compared to 2007 when the phenomenon began to spread more intensely. The spread of SPGs is mainly due to new and confirmed policies for consumption testing new social paradigms aimed at promoting sustainable development in rural areas through active reorganizing of the agriculture and food industry (Cembalo et al., 2013; Migliore et al., 2012; Schifani and Migliore, 2011; Brunori and Rossi, 2000). By their very nature, SPGs are activated by enthusiastic individuals who, in an entirely voluntary manner, offer their time and resources to start up collective action initiatives at the local level. As a result, there is a set of rules deriving from complex relational structures competing to define a - self-organized collective action for sustainable consumption. The rules within SPGs differ from the mainstream as they experiment with new social paradigms and innovation system models (Cembalo et al, 2013; Brunori, 2000, 2011). At the local level, in fact, SPGs are often at the center of a much more complex network structure which involves actors that share an explicit ambitions of territorial governance, similar to what happens in the Anglo-Saxon movement of Transition Towns (Grasseni, 2013). In other words, these networks represent the typical ‘grassroots innovations’ (Seyfang & Smith, 2006), in which individual actors and organizations experiment with new solutions to common problems. These forms of FCNs represent particularly important cases because they allow for the construction and consolidation of relations of reciprocity which favor the management of natural resources at local levels with satisfactory long-term outcomes (Migliore et al., 2013). However, while research conducted on SPGs has shown that these groups represent important sources of social innovation capable of suggesting effective solutions to the problems of the unsustainability of the agro-industrial system, to date it is still not clear which actors and roles within the network influence the promotion of long-term sustainable consumption and production. To develop a more inclusive view of how such influences are established within the network, this work draws on the evolutionary theory of collective action (Ostrom, 2000, 2010). In these studies, the conditions which affect the likelihood of individuals bringing about collective actions to overcome social dilemmas in the management of resources used in common are analyzed. Among these conditions, the way in which the individuals are linked via a network has proven very important in triggering collective action. In fact, it is a commonly held opinion that individuals who are linked in a network are more likely to contribute each other’s welfare (Granovetter, 1973; Ostrom, 2010). The aim of this study is to understand how clusters of economic actors organized in different ways (aggregations of consumers and of producers, environmental associations, etc.) tend to influence the promotion of sustainable consumption and production. The hypothesis behind the present study is in fact that the capacity of an SPGs to diffuse and produce long-term collective actions is the result of the strategies of specific actors in possession of relational capital (quality and amount of relations). More precisely, it is presumed that bigger the number of relationships that each actor or group of actors establishes within the network, major is the capability of an actor to affect collective action. Following this line of reasoning, it is possible to identify the key actors and their role within the collective action. With this in mind, the article takes a relational approach and analyzes in detail the system of relations between one specific SPG called Gasualmente (placed in Palermo City), which constitutes one of the most active SPGs in Sicily (Southern Italy), and other actors (both individual and collective actors). Social initiatives like SPG promoting solidary consumption of local food are based on a system of relations where movements of a single actor are conditioned by its position and the number of mutual ties it is able to form. Therefore, it is important to identify the social actors with a strategic role, so those that can influence more the collective decision making process and the transmission of information within the social network. In order to study social relations, we have used in this paper Social Network Analysis (SNA). It is an analysis technique identifying and analyzing relations among the members of a network (individuals and/or associations) in order to discover schemes depicting relational structures (Hannemann e Riddle, 2005). In other words, Social Network Analysis (SNA) permits to analyze and visualize social relations among actors, groups, associations and other actors involved in the exchange of goods, information and knowledge. (Wasserman S., Faust, K., 1994). By applying Social Network Analysis, we have identified what role different participants of the network play, that is who can influence the long time collective action. The analysis of structural and relational traits of Gasualmente network, done by applying a specific set of ego-network analysis indexes, has shown that Gasualmente consumers structure many relationships with various actors, highly dependent on each other which is due to the fact that they share the same values, direct relations and trust each other. It favors a strong sense of community, which is a typical trait of actors promoting ethical and solidary economy. More precisely there are farmers, cultural and environmental associations and other institutional actors. Our case study is a typical example of a self-governing common resources that guarantees a sustainable development and permits to obtain significant and lasting outcomes. It also confirms that a better and more sustainable management of common resources can be achieved when they are used by involving economic actors that are interdependent and when the relational capital of every network can contribute to the sustainable development.

Migliore G, Forno F, Dara Guccione G, Schifani G (2015). Understanding Collective action in sustainable consumption: a relational approach. In CAP 2014-2020: Scenarios for European Agri-Food and Rural Systems Proceedings of the 51st SIDEA Conference Benevento, Palazzo De Simone, 18-20 September 2014 (pp.339-346).

Understanding Collective action in sustainable consumption: a relational approach

MIGLIORE, Giuseppina;SCHIFANI, Giorgio
2015-01-01

Abstract

Depletion of natural resources have become key issues on the European policy agenda. Bottom-up measures have emerged in several countries with a view to promoting awareness campaigns and practical actions with respect to environmental sustainability. All this has led to the creation of new strategies in the policies for consumption, redefining a new alternative geography of food and new opportunities for small enterprises excluded from globalization (Whatmore and Thorne, 1997; Miele, 1999; Murdoch e Miele, 1999; Murdoch et al., 2000). In the new emerging geography of food, the reincorporation of production processes and local consumption are spreading quickly assuming different forms such as the so-called Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) (Abatekassa and Peterson, 2011) or the much less analyzed Food Community Networks (FCNs) (Pascucci et al., 2013). FCNs differentiate from AFNs as in these experiences participants share both the benefits and cover expenses of the organization (Caracciolo and Lombardi, 2012). A common feature of the different forms of FCNs is an interesting relational structure that governs market transactions. Within FCNs, Italian Solidarity Purchase Groups (SPGs) are among the most representative relational forms with the objective to promote sustainable consumption (Brunori et al., 2011; Graziano and Forno, 2012; Migliore et al., 2013). The phenomenon of SPGs is continuously growing in Italy: in 2013, there were 974 active groups , which means that in the two last years they have increased by 22% and by 64% if compared to 2007 when the phenomenon began to spread more intensely. The spread of SPGs is mainly due to new and confirmed policies for consumption testing new social paradigms aimed at promoting sustainable development in rural areas through active reorganizing of the agriculture and food industry (Cembalo et al., 2013; Migliore et al., 2012; Schifani and Migliore, 2011; Brunori and Rossi, 2000). By their very nature, SPGs are activated by enthusiastic individuals who, in an entirely voluntary manner, offer their time and resources to start up collective action initiatives at the local level. As a result, there is a set of rules deriving from complex relational structures competing to define a - self-organized collective action for sustainable consumption. The rules within SPGs differ from the mainstream as they experiment with new social paradigms and innovation system models (Cembalo et al, 2013; Brunori, 2000, 2011). At the local level, in fact, SPGs are often at the center of a much more complex network structure which involves actors that share an explicit ambitions of territorial governance, similar to what happens in the Anglo-Saxon movement of Transition Towns (Grasseni, 2013). In other words, these networks represent the typical ‘grassroots innovations’ (Seyfang & Smith, 2006), in which individual actors and organizations experiment with new solutions to common problems. These forms of FCNs represent particularly important cases because they allow for the construction and consolidation of relations of reciprocity which favor the management of natural resources at local levels with satisfactory long-term outcomes (Migliore et al., 2013). However, while research conducted on SPGs has shown that these groups represent important sources of social innovation capable of suggesting effective solutions to the problems of the unsustainability of the agro-industrial system, to date it is still not clear which actors and roles within the network influence the promotion of long-term sustainable consumption and production. To develop a more inclusive view of how such influences are established within the network, this work draws on the evolutionary theory of collective action (Ostrom, 2000, 2010). In these studies, the conditions which affect the likelihood of individuals bringing about collective actions to overcome social dilemmas in the management of resources used in common are analyzed. Among these conditions, the way in which the individuals are linked via a network has proven very important in triggering collective action. In fact, it is a commonly held opinion that individuals who are linked in a network are more likely to contribute each other’s welfare (Granovetter, 1973; Ostrom, 2010). The aim of this study is to understand how clusters of economic actors organized in different ways (aggregations of consumers and of producers, environmental associations, etc.) tend to influence the promotion of sustainable consumption and production. The hypothesis behind the present study is in fact that the capacity of an SPGs to diffuse and produce long-term collective actions is the result of the strategies of specific actors in possession of relational capital (quality and amount of relations). More precisely, it is presumed that bigger the number of relationships that each actor or group of actors establishes within the network, major is the capability of an actor to affect collective action. Following this line of reasoning, it is possible to identify the key actors and their role within the collective action. With this in mind, the article takes a relational approach and analyzes in detail the system of relations between one specific SPG called Gasualmente (placed in Palermo City), which constitutes one of the most active SPGs in Sicily (Southern Italy), and other actors (both individual and collective actors). Social initiatives like SPG promoting solidary consumption of local food are based on a system of relations where movements of a single actor are conditioned by its position and the number of mutual ties it is able to form. Therefore, it is important to identify the social actors with a strategic role, so those that can influence more the collective decision making process and the transmission of information within the social network. In order to study social relations, we have used in this paper Social Network Analysis (SNA). It is an analysis technique identifying and analyzing relations among the members of a network (individuals and/or associations) in order to discover schemes depicting relational structures (Hannemann e Riddle, 2005). In other words, Social Network Analysis (SNA) permits to analyze and visualize social relations among actors, groups, associations and other actors involved in the exchange of goods, information and knowledge. (Wasserman S., Faust, K., 1994). By applying Social Network Analysis, we have identified what role different participants of the network play, that is who can influence the long time collective action. The analysis of structural and relational traits of Gasualmente network, done by applying a specific set of ego-network analysis indexes, has shown that Gasualmente consumers structure many relationships with various actors, highly dependent on each other which is due to the fact that they share the same values, direct relations and trust each other. It favors a strong sense of community, which is a typical trait of actors promoting ethical and solidary economy. More precisely there are farmers, cultural and environmental associations and other institutional actors. Our case study is a typical example of a self-governing common resources that guarantees a sustainable development and permits to obtain significant and lasting outcomes. It also confirms that a better and more sustainable management of common resources can be achieved when they are used by involving economic actors that are interdependent and when the relational capital of every network can contribute to the sustainable development.
Settore AGR/01 - Economia Ed Estimo Rurale
set-2014
LI Convegno di Studi della Società Italiana di Economia Agraria (SIDEA) La PAC 2014-2020: scenari per i sistemi agroalimentari e rurali europei
Benevento
settembre 2014
LI
lug-2014
8
Online
Migliore G, Forno F, Dara Guccione G, Schifani G (2015). Understanding Collective action in sustainable consumption: a relational approach. In CAP 2014-2020: Scenarios for European Agri-Food and Rural Systems Proceedings of the 51st SIDEA Conference Benevento, Palazzo De Simone, 18-20 September 2014 (pp.339-346).
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Migliore G; Forno F; Dara Guccione G; Schifani G
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10447/162802
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