Making visible: Interrogating the performance of food sharing across 100 urban areas

Published by SHARECITY on the 20th September 2017.

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Interpersonal sharing of food has been an omnipresent feature of human civilisation from hunter-gatherer societies to the present, both as a mechanism through which sustenance is secured and as a means to cement social relations. While the evolutionary dynamism of this food sharing is relatively well documented, critical scholarship has tended to examine contemporary food sharing practices beyond family and friends through case studies of individual initiatives. A broader view of food sharing practices is absent. In addition, there has been little examination of the role that emerging information and communication technologies (ICT) are having on food sharing, despite claims that such technologies offer transformative potential to achieve more secure, sustainable and just food systems. In response, this paper presents a novel landscape level analysis of more than 4000 ICT-mediated urban food sharing activities operating across 100 cities in six continents. Adopting conceptual insights from the intersection of social and economic practice-oriented approaches, the resulting foodsharing database progresses understanding of, and makes visible, the ways in which food (and food-related skills, stuff and spaces) is being shared across diverse urban settings. To conclude, it is argued that the database plays an important productive and performative role in mapping and comparing diverse food sharing economies. Importantly, it provides a springboard for further explanatory research to fine-tune our understanding of the evolution, governance and sustainability potential of urban food sharing.

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