Inderscience Publishers

The organic food market in Portugal: contested meanings, competing conventions

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The European Union regulatory framework on organic farming gave a new impulse to the institutionalisation of the Portuguese organic farming movement. This paper offers an analytical account based on interviews with key market and institutional actors within the organic food sector in Portugal. The qualitative analysis undertaken is underpinned by the premises of convention theory and aims at showing that this particular market is becoming polarised. This polarisation is featured by the official/pro-certification claims (where industrial and opinion conventions hold sway) and the unofficial/beyond certification claims (underpinned by green, inspirational and domestic conventions). A trend towards the 'conventionalisation' of the organic market is gradually emerging, whilst a tendency for 'movement resistance' still persists. This paper reflects upon the polarisation and polarised claims that are enmeshed in a market of disputes of contested meanings and competing conventions around organic food.

Keywords: convention theory, conventionalisation, movement resistance, provisioning systems, hybrid, quality, organic food market, Portugal, organic farming, organic agriculture, polarisation

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