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Local food systems and local economic democracy: a framework for delivering food security?

Project Description

Local food systems can help develop food security and enhance the health, wellbeing, sustainability and resilience of local communities and economies, and may enable societies to meet the SDGs relating to ending hunger and achieving food security. Little is known about the mechanisms through which this may be achieved in the global north and global south, nor whether lessons learned in one apply in the other. This comparative, interdisciplinary PhD entails fieldwork in Preston (UK) and Patna (India).


The research aims are to:
• evaluate the ways in which local food systems contribute to innovative local economic and social strategies and, in turn, their role in meeting the SDGs
• determine the ways in which different food initiatives connect, and as a system contribute to the sustainability, resilience, health and wellbeing of the locality
• create a framework through which other areas can identify the steps needed to deliver food security through local food systems.
• To contribute to policy and practice in the UK and India.

Methodology and Innovation

The research consists of a mixed-method, comparative study of Preston and Patna using a case study approach (Yin, 1994). The student will undertake fieldwork in both cities.

During these placements, the student will utilise sensory ethnographic approaches (Adams et al., 2008; Pink & Morgan, 2013) to observe and document activities within local food systems (Spring, Adams & Hardman, 2019; Pink, 2007). These will enable detailed understanding of the work of the organisations involved.

Workshops will be facilitated using the stakeholder engagement tool, Ketso (McIntosh & Cockburn-Wootten, 2016), which Dr Adams has used previously (Adams et al., 2015). This provides a creative way for stakeholders from government, local enterprises and civic society to come together to generate engaged and collaborative thinking about the relationship between local food systems and local democracy.

Additionally, interviews will be conducted with key local stakeholders, including representatives from alternative food enterprises and local government, to obtain a more detailed and nuanced understanding of perceptions, interests and resources.

In Preston key stakeholders include Preston City Council, The Larder, Let’s Grow Preston, Our Food Coop, Gateway Housing Association, and Charlie Clutterbuck, all of which the supervisory team have excellent relationships with through the Sustainable Food NW Research Collaboration. The student’s placement in Preston will be at The Larder, supporting it with ongoing projects and developing relationships with the broader food network.

In Patna the student’s placement will be at the Centre for Development Practice and Research. Prof. Pushpendra will facilitate introductions to key stakeholders in the local food network including Bihar Rural Livelihoods Mission ( who support this project.


Applicants must apply using the online form on the University Alliance website at Full details of the programme, eligibility details and a list of available research projects can be seen at

The final deadline for application is 12 April 2019.

Funding Notes

DTA3/COFUND participants will be employed for 36 months with a minimum salary of (approximately) £20,989 per annum. Tuition fees will waived for DTA3/COFUND participants who will also be able to access an annual DTA elective bursary to enable attendance at DTA training events and interact with colleagues across the Doctoral Training Alliance(s).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801604.


Adams, M., Cornes, C., Armitage, R., Miah, A., Clark, A., & St Clair, R. (2016). Sustainable regeneration: everyday landscapes of food acquisition Pendleton. Retrieved from Salford:
Adams, M., Cox, T., Moore, G., Croxford, B., Sharples, S., & Refaee, M. (2009). The sensory city. In R. Cooper, G. Evans, & C. Boyko (Eds.), Designing Sustainable Cities (pp. 75-85). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
McIntosh, A. J., & Cockburn-Wootten, C. (2016). Using Ketso for engaged tourism scholarship. Annals of Tourism Research, 56, 148-151.
Pink, S., & Morgan, J. (2013). Short-Term Ethnography: Intense Routes to Knowing. Symbolic Interaction, 36(3), 351-361. doi:doi:10.1002/symb.66
Pink, S. (2007). Sensing Cittàslow: slow living and the constitution of the sensory city. The Senses and Society, 2(1), 59-77.
Spring, C., Adams, M., & Hardman, M. (2019). Sites of learning: exploring political ecologies and visceral pedagogies of surplus food redistribution in the UK. Policy Futures in Education.
Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: design and methods (second ed.). Beverley Hills, CA, USA: Sage Publications.

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