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Politicising consumer trust in food: A socio-institutional explanation to variations in trust

Kj�rnes, U and Warde, A and Harvey, M (2006) 'Politicising consumer trust in food: A socio-institutional explanation to variations in trust.' In: Kaiser, M and Lien, ME, (eds.) Ethics and the Politics of Food: Preprints of the 6th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics. Wageningen, 162 - 166. ISBN 9789086860081

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The topic for this paper is the role and foundations for trust in food in modern societies. Trust in food is often analysed as a matter of individual risk perception and trustworthy risk communication. Generally overlooked by individual level explanations are observations of rapid macro level shifts and large and consistent cross-national variations. Such variations and shifts are not easily explained within these perspectives, which focus mainly on individual strategies and communication efforts. The paper will argue that trust is social and relational, meaning that we should seek to understand the dynamics of 'who trust whom in regard to what'. By this expression we do not suggest rational decision-making processes. The approach assumes that trust in food is influenced by long-term cultural factors as well as responses to the performance of central institutional actors. We are first of all looking for aggregate effects in terms of variations in institutionalisation processes, what we call 'triangular affairs' between provisioning systems, regulations as well as consumption. We therefore concentrate on macro-level interrelations between three poles: the food market, public regulation, and the consumers. The paper will present some findings from a comparative study in six European countries, Trust in Food, including public opinion surveys and institutional studies in Denmark, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, and Portugal. It will focus particularly on some key issues related to trust in various institutional actors. While there is relative consensus across Europe that civil society actors can be trusted most, followed by public authorities, and market actors and politicians the least, there is considerable national variation in the overall levels of institutional trust and also in the degrees of differentiation across the various actors.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: trust, food consumption, institutionalisation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Elena Pupaza
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2017 15:35
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 17:48

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