Emerging Forms of Food Consumer Behaviour and Food Governance

This study will examine ways in which new media shape consumer activism and food governance.

Contemporary efforts to change the structure and dynamics of food systems often depend on altering the patterns of consumer behaviour. Yet our current models of how consumers source, share and interpret food-related information are being radically challenged by new sources of information, most prominently social media and other web-supported tools of collective organization.

Future interventions into food systems will depend on developing an improved understanding of these new media of consumer activism, the ways in which they mediate the advice and mandate of governing actors, and what they reveal about the types of information important to consumers as well as the forms of action they find effective and feasible.

The key questions to be addressed include the following:

  • What kinds of information and communications technologies are available and how are they mobilized to empower food consumers?
  • What kind of knowledge counts and who holds the right expertise in this field?
  • How is industry involved?

This research will examine how consumers use these new systems, whether internet-based consumer organisations, mobile apps or other emergent technologies, and how their engagement is reshaping contemporary modes of food governance.

Professor Stanley Ulijaszek, Dr Catherine Dolan and Dr Javier Lezaun are the principal investigators and all are members of the Oxford Food Governance Group, a new and interdisciplinary group of researchers from the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity and the Said Business School at the University of Oxford, who share a research interest in food governance practices


Get involved with the research by taking this short survey: "What about food matters most to you?"

Read a blog post by Tanja about her experiences using mobile phone apps while shopping, to find out about the food she is buying: Learning how to buycott? Political consumerism and new media