UNMAKING: a research programme on the disruption of capitalism in societal transformation to sustainability

PhD research project: Nurturing networks – a social movement lens on community-supported agriculture.

Nurturing networksa social movement lens on communitysupported agriculture  

PhD student: Leonie Guerrero.

Supervisors: Giuseppe Feola and Peter Driessen.

Capitalist, growth-compelled agri-food systems are a key driver of environmental and social unsustainability. Consequently, there is growing recognition that capitalist agri-food systems should be addressed in studies on transformations towards degrowth societies. Grassroots movements with alternative models of food production and consumption have emerged as agents of collective change that challenge dominant capitalist practices, values and institutions and make space for alternatives that are not compatible with the status quo. Community-supported agriculture (CSA), a model that seeks to connect producers with consumer and is based on the premise of collective sharing risks, costs and harvest of the agricultural production, is one of the most prominent examples of this larger current of agri-food grassroots movements. 

Therefore, this PhD project sets out to understand the role of CSA as political actors in advancing more socially and ecologically just agri-food systems and societies through the lens of social movement theory. A social movement perspective helps to understand the identity, claims and struggles, as well as the political potential to produce change of and beyond capitalist agri-food systems, which have remained obscured in the extant research. In contrast to earlier research that has primarily investigated CSA on the initiative level, this PhD project analyses the national CSA networks in Germany and Italy. In these networks, individual CSA initiatives come together, negotiate common identities, and organise for collective action.  

The PhD project has the following research objectives:

  1. Analyse the mechanisms of boundary work and identity building within the CSA movements in Germany and Italy 
  2. Analyse the role of political advocacy as a strategy of the CSA movement in Germany  
  3. Assess the potential and desirability of an alliance between the CSA and degrowth movement   
  4. Identify research avenues that can deepen, diversify, and expand the degrowth research on agri-food systems and food movements specifically 


PhD thesis:

Guerrero Lara, L., 2024. Nurturing networks: A Social Movement lens on Community-Supported Agriculture. Utrecht University.


Publications within the PhD project:   

Guerrero Lara, Feola, G., Driessen, P., 2024. Drawing Boundaries: Negotiating a Collective ‘We’ in Community-Supported Agriculture Networks . Journal of Rural Studies 106, 103197.

Spanier, J., Guerrero Lara, L., Feola, G., 2024. A one-sided love affair? On the potential for a coalition between degrowth and community-supported agriculture in Germany. Agriculture and Human Values 41, 25-45.

Guerrero Lara, L., van Oers, L., Smessaert, J., Spanier, J., Raj, G., Feola, G., 2023. Degrowth and Agri-Food Systems: A Research Agenda for the Critical Social Sciences. Sustainability Science 18, 1579–1594.


Further Publications: 

Feola, G., Guerrero Lara, L., Smessaert, J. Spanier, J. 2020. Book Review: The Case for DegrowthEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 37: 381-382.