Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Community supported agriculture: Cultivating social capital
by Milstein, Theresa V., M.A., Western Illinois University, 2013, 124; 1550530
Abstract (Summary)

U.S. citizens disengaged from politics and from each other in the latter half of the 20th century, which is evidence of decreased social capital and a weakening democracy. At the same time, small farms were lost at an alarming rate resulting in fewer farms and the rise of "Big Ag". Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) reconnects people to the food they eat and cultivates a community among the farmers and member-shareholders. CSA democratizes food for growers who are beholden to their members rather than to agribusiness, and for members who elect to support a CSA rather than purchase supermarket foods of unknown origin. This study used a survey of 132 CSA operators from across the United States to test whether operators who described "community" as a motivating factor to run a CSA and measured their success in terms of community took concrete actions to build social capital within their CSA and community. The findings revealed that "community" as a motivation and as a measure of success was significantly correlated with social capital building activities. More specifically, CSA operators who rated "Generating a sense of community" as an important motivation and "Community development/quality of life" as an important measure of success were more likely to survey their members as to their wants and needs, host open house events at the farm, participate in community events, and report that the CSA improved social capital in their communities. CSA could be one method to improve depleted social capital and cultivate food democracy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Boeckelman, Keith A., Merrett, Christopher D.
Commitee: Albarracin, Julia, Auger, Vincent A.
School: Western Illinois University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 52/04M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Political science, Sustainability
Keywords: Community, Community supported agriculture, Csa, Democracy, Motivation, Social capital
Publication Number: 1550530
ISBN: 978-1-303-65964-5
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