The Neoliberal Regime in the Agri-Food Sector: Crisis, Resilience, and Restructuring, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Neoliberal Regime in the Agri-Food Sector

Crisis, Resilience, and Restructuring, 1st Edition

Edited by Steven Wolf, Alessandro Bonanno


320 pages | 10 B/W Illus.

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For the last three decades, the Neoliberal regime, emphasising economic growth through deregulation, market integration, expansion of the private sector, and contraction of the welfare state has shaped production and consumption processes in agriculture and food. These institutional arrangements emerged from and advanced academic and popular beliefs about the virtues of private, market-based coordination relative to public, state-based problem solving. This book presents an informed, constructive dialogue around the thesis that the Neoliberal mode of governance has reached some institutional and material limits. Is Neoliberalism exhausted? How should we understand crisis applied to Neoliberalism? What are the opportunities and risks linked to the construction of alternatives? The book advances a critical evaluation of the evidence supporting claims of rupture of, or incursions into, the Neoliberal model. It also analyzes pragmatic responses to these critiques including policy initiatives, social mobilization and experimentation at various scales and points of entry.

The book surveys and synthesizes a range of sociological frames designed to grapple with the concepts of regimes, systemic crisis and transitions. Contributions include historical analysis, comparative analysis and case studies of food and agriculture from around the globe. These highlight particular aspects of crisis and responses, including the potential for continued resilience, a neo-productivist return, as well as the emergence and scaling up of alternative models.

Table of Contents


Steven A. Wolf and Alessandro Bonanno

Part 1: Theoretical Analyses and Key Concepts

1. The Legitimation Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization: Instances from Agriculture and Food

Alessandro Bonanno

2. How Neoliberal Myths Endanger Democracy and Open New Avenues for Democratic Action

Lawrence Busch

3. Policing the New Enclosures: On Violence, Primitive Accumulation, and Crisis in the Neoliberal Food System

Morgan Buck

Part 2: Case Studies

4. The Rise and Fall of a Prairie Giant: the Canadian Wheat Board in Food Regime History

André Magnan

5. Navigating the Neoliberal-Nativist Interface: Farmer Survival and the Construction of Racially Segregated Workplaces

Jill Harrison

6. Creating Rupture through Policy: Considering the Importance of Ideas in Agrifood Change

Rebecca L. Som Castellano

7. Beyond Farming: Cases of Revitalization of Rural Communities through Multi-Role Community Farming Enterprise as Social Service Provider

Haruhiko Iba and Kiyohiko Sakamoto

Part 3: Research Opportunities

8. To Bt or not to Bt? State, Civil Society, and Firms Debate GM Seeds in Democratic India

Devparna Roy

9. Turning of the Tide: Rising Discontent over Transgenic Crops in Brazil

Karine Peschard

10. U.S. Agrienvironmental Policy: Neoliberalization of Nature Meets Old Public Management

Steven A. Wolf

11. For Competitiveness Sake?: Material Competition vs. Competitiveness as a National Project

Anouk Patel-Campillo

12. The Neoliberal Food Regime in Latin America: State, Agribusiness Transnational Corporations and Biotechnology

Gerardo Otero

13. ‘Just Another Asset Class’?: Neoliberalism, Finance, and the Construction of Farmland Investment

Madeleine Fairbairn

14. Neoliberalism in the Antipodes: Understanding the Influence and Limits of the Neoliberal Political Project

Geoffrey Lawrence Hugh Campbell

15. Conclusion: The Plasticity and Contested Terrain of Neoliberalism

Steven A. Wolf and Alessandro Bonanno

About the Editors

Steven A. Wolf is Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, New York, USA. He is also a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College, University of London, UK.

Alessandro Bonanno is Texas State University System Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Sam Houston State University, Texas, USA.

About the Series

Earthscan Food and Agriculture

Earthscan Food and Agriculture
This series includes a wide range of inter-disciplinary approaches to food and agriculture, integrating perspectives from both social and natural sciences. It includes textbooks, research monographs and titles aimed at professionals, NGOs and policy-makers. Authors or editors of potential new titles should contact Hannah Ferguson, Editor (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Industries / Agribusiness
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Rural
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Agriculture / General