ERIC Number: EJ780445
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan
Reference Count: N/A
Understanding and (Dis)trusting Food Assurance Schemes: Consumer Confidence and the "Knowledge Fix"
Eden, Sally; Bear, Christopher; Walker, Gordon
Journal of Rural Studies, v24 n1 p1-14 Jan 2008
This paper uses evidence from focus groups with consumers in England to consider how consumers understand and evaluate a range of proxies or intermediary organisations that offer assurance about food and consumer products, particularly voluntary certification schemes. This addresses the current concern in developed economies about providing information in order to reconnect consumers with food producers and to support moves towards more local, fairly traded and sustainable production. However, we show that such a "knowledge fix" approach of providing information may not reconnect consumers so easily. Participants found it particularly difficult to work out what certification involved and what kinds of organisations were providing assurance. They built vernacular typologies and comparative judgements that did not necessarily identify or prioritise "independent" third-party certification as the gold standard, not least because of the practical difficulties of monitoring complex supply chains, and expressed confusion and scepticism about how well food assurance schemes could work in practice. Our results therefore problematise the knowledge fix urged in the literature and emphasise instead the need to better understand how consumers make sense of assurance information in different contexts.
Descriptors: Focus Groups, Foreign Countries, Certification, Food Standards, Food, Consumer Economics, Consumer Education, Merchandise Information, Credibility, Program Evaluation, Institutional Evaluation, Persuasive Discourse, Evaluative Thinking, Agricultural Production
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)