Food Systems Resilience: Towards an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda

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In this article, we offer a contribution to the ongoing study of food by advancing a conceptual framework and interdisciplinary research agenda – what we term ‘food system resilience’. In recent years, the concept of resilience has been extensively used in a variety of fields, but not always consistently or holistically. Here we aim to theorise systematically resilience as an analytical concept as it applies to food systems research. To do this, we engage with and seek to extend current understandings of resilience across different disciplines. Accordingly, we begin by exploring the different ways in which the concept of resilience is understood and used in current academic and practitioner literatures - both as a general concept and as applied specifically to food systems research. We show that the social-ecological perspective, rooted in an appreciation of the complexity of systems, carries significant analytical potential. We first underline what we mean by the food system and relate our understanding of this term to those commonly found in the extant food studies literature. We then apply our conception to the specific case of the UK. Here we distinguish between four subsystems at which our ‘resilient food systems’ can be applied. These are, namely, the agro-food system; the value chain; the retail-consumption nexus; and the governance and regulatory framework. On the basis of this conceptualisation we provide an interdisciplinary research agenda, using the case of the UK to illustrate the sorts of research questions and innovative methodologies that our food systems resilience approach is designed to promote.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalEmerald Open Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 Doherty B et al.


  • Food systems
  • resilience

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