ICT mediated food sharing and food transitions towards sustainable food systems in Singapore
Citation:Rut, Monika Iwona, ICT mediated food sharing and food transitions towards sustainable food systems in Singapore, Trinity College Dublin.School of Natural Sciences, 2021
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With projected population growth of 9.1 billion people by 2050, and accelerated planetary urbanization quickly approaching, there is growing concern regarding the unsustainability of cities. Urban food systems are a focal point for these concerns, bringing into focus the need for sustainable agriculture, and communities, surplus food redistribution, and healthy urban diets. With growing access to the Internet, real-time mobile applications, and social networking websites, ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) mediated sharing of food related resources have been identified as one potentially transformative mechanism towards more sustainable cities and communities. However, there is lack of empirically grounded research on the practice of ICT mediated food sharing in cities. As a social practice, food sharing has evolved through centuries, from the viscerality of food sharing in subsistence societies and experiences of care and conviviality in kinship networks, to peer to peer engagements with emerging forms of ICT mediated food sharing that facilitate connections between strangers building new social relations and communities. Long recognized as a symbol of solidarity and communality, ICT mediated food sharing includes new organisational forms, functions and governance model arising from these opportunities. Acknowledging the diversity of food sharing practices in cities today, this thesis explores ICT mediated food sharing and initiatives that enable food sharing practices in Singapore. Although Singapore is internationally recognised as a one of the most sustainable and food secure countries in the world, the City-State depends heavily on technologies to drive sustainability transitions forward in terms of food production and food waste management. Furthermore, the focus in policy making on development of technological infrastructures and ecological modernisation has weakened State capacity to engage citizens in democratic processes and collaborations on food sustainability issues, leading to a loss of community cohesion, known in Singapore as kampong spirit. Despite this, a range of food sharing initiatives have emerged in the recent years (2012-2020) and are experimenting with collaborative food sharing practices around food. These initiatives utilise ICT as an organisational tool to connect citizens - physically and emotionally - who are interested in improving the sustainability of their food practices. Food sharing in Singapore represents an understudied topic in sustainability transitions literature and this thesis broadens the empirical and territorial base of research exploring food transitions by focusing on ICT mediated food sharing practices. The research adopted multiple methods, with interviews undertaken with policy makers and other stakeholders in Singapore as well as interviews and participant observation with five initiatives that engage in diverse food sharing practices from food growing, shared food consumption and surplus food redistribution. It highlights the history and activities of the initiatives, type of participants and their motivations; challenges and barriers to participation, and the role of ICT and sustainability potential of food sharing in the urban food context in Singapore. The research draws on social practice theory to look more closely at the practices and performances of food sharing and reviews theoretical approaches in sustainability transitions literature to analyse more closely the role of civil society actors in food transitions. The study reveals that initiatives are diverse, scattered across the food system with participants from all walks of life who are primarily motivated by social and environmental concerns. Food sharing initiatives also include diverse sustainability goals and use ICT to achieve their objectives, given the restrictions of civic associational life in Singapore. The research suggests that food transitions are difficult to disentangle because they take place on a multitude of levels, from the long-term structural approaches that tackle national issues such as food security to everyday practices involving ordinary citizens and therefore they are intricately tied to the political cultures, histories of places, and messy processes that involves social relations, ethical concerns and issues of power.
European Research Council (ERC)
The research that this thesis is based upon was funded by a Horizon 2020 European Research Council Consolidator Award. Title: SHARECITY: The practice and sustainability of urban food sharing. Award No: 646883.
Author: Rut, Monika Iwona
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Natural Sciences. Discipline of Geography
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available