A Five-Point Framework for Reading for Social Justice: A Case Study of Food Policy Discourse in the Context of Brexit Britain

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    Food justice represents an evolving framework that puts social justice at the center of debates on how to achieve sustainable food systems. Food justice has largely been examined in community-level projects and activism outside the UK. This paper uses food justice as a framework through which to analyze food policy discourse in the UK. Our analysis presents an approach to “reading for social justice” by using the twin pillars of “distributive” (how benefits and risks are shared) and “procedural” justice (who is included) as analytical lenses. We apply critical discourse analysis to 20 policy documents published since the 2016 “Brexit” referendum. Our analysis finds that elements of both distributive and procedural justice are present, but underdeveloped or ignored across the documents. The lack of direct attention to social justice issues in the papers was not for lack of actual social justice issues, which were implicit within the discourse. The post-Brexit discourse reproduced existing power imbalances and despite occurring at a juncture where the potential for change was high, marginalized and vulnerable voices remain underrepresented. In the context of post-Brexit Britain, as well as in any political context, we argue that if food policy-making and governance are to enable a more just and sustainable food system, a more systematic approach to incorporating social justice needs to be developed. To this end, we offer a five-part approach to “reading for social justice” when scrutinizing food and farming policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)281-300
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

    The copyright to all content published in JAFSCD belongs to the author(s). It is licensed as CC BY 4.0. This license determines how you may reprint, copy, distribute, or otherwise share JAFSCD content.


    • Agricultural Policy
    • Brexit
    • Distributive Justice
    • Food Justice
    • Food Policy
    • Participation
    • Procedural Justice
    • Social Justice

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Development
    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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