Food Regimes, Capital, State, and Class: Friedmann and McMichael Revisited

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    25 Citations (Scopus)
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    Friedmann and McMichael’s work, through their concept of the ‘food regime’, has been foundational to our thinking about the relation between capitalism, the state, and agriculture. Given the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of their seminal 1989 paper in this journal (Agriculture and the State System: The Rise and Decline of National Agricultures, 1870 to the Present) it seems very appropriate to commemorate this event by undertaking a reassessment of that paper. This article undertakes such a reassessment by examining and critiquing: the theoretical assumptions underlying the paper, particularly in relation to capitalism, class, and the state. This directs attention particularly to: the authors’ (implicit) definition of capitalism; the relation between capitalism and the modern state; their treatment of ‘class’ and ‘class struggle’; and their periodisation of food regimes and the dynamics underlying them, these being premised on their theoretical assumptions. The second, third, and, fourth sections occupy the bulk of the paper. The second section develops a significantly revised theoretical foundation for thinking about the dynamics underlying food regimes, while the third section deploys this as the basis for a new periodisation of food regimes. This periodisation includes a proposed Fifth, or ‘Post-Neoliberal’ Food Regime, and the final section examines this in detail.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)230-254
    Number of pages25
    JournalSociologia Ruralis
    Issue number2
    Early online date14 Mar 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

    Bibliographical note

    This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Tilzey, M 2019, 'Food Regimes, Capital, State, and Class: Friedmann and McMichael Revisited', Sociologia Ruralis, vol. 59, no. 2, pp. 230-254 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


    • food regimes
    • state
    • capital
    • class
    • Friedmann/McMichael

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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