Communication between Hope and Ambiguity: Coordination in transformation of food systems towards circular economy

Last changed: 11 September 2020
A women bying an apple from a fruitmarket. Photo.

The project investigates how the circular economy (CE) is made sense of in food systems, and suggests methods to facilitate constructive collaboration between multiple players.

The circular economy (CE) —understood as one in which maximum value is obtained from resources during use, avoidable waste is eliminated and unavoidable waste reused or recycled—is growing in prominence as an alternative to the prevailing linear system (of ‘take, make and dispose’).

Today’s food sector increasingly aims to embed CE principles by changing existing production and consumption systems to share and re-circulate material and energy which would otherwise be lost. But this transition requires effective collaboration between multiple players which can prove difficult to coordinate, particularly since people may have different and competing interpretations of the hopeful, ambitious and ambiguous CE concept.

This research uses symbolic interactionism and practice theory and develops ‘agonistic approaches’ to communication to understand how the CE is made sense of in food systems, and suggests methods to facilitate constructive collaboration.

The project consists of four work packages:

  • a discourse analysis of the meanings attributed to CE in the food system and a survey monitoring perceptions of CE;
  • a case study of CE initiatives, to identify the communicative procedures and norms which are in use;
  • an interactive research module with a workshop with practitioners sharing experiences and formulating best practice; 
  • a synthesis of the three previous WPs suggesting novel methods for collaboration and communication to achieve CE in food system projects.

Facts:

Project leader

Hanna Bergeå, Researcher, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU

Project participants

Steffen Boehm, Professor, University of Exeter Business School
Read more on Steffen Boehm's presentation page

Lars Hallgren, Senior Lecturer, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU, +4618672584
Send an e-mail to: lars.hallgren@slu.se

Malte Rödl, Researcher, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU, +4618671000
Read more on Malte Rödl's CV page
Send an e-mail to: malte.rodl@slu.se 

Therese Åhlvik, Doctoral Student, Division of Environmental Communication, SLU, +4618671000
Read more on Therese Åhlvik's CV page
Send an e-mail to: therese.ahlvik@slu.se

Project time

2019-2021

External funding

Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (Formas)

Page editor: anni.hoffren@slu.se