Evans, D., Campbell, H. & Murcott, A. (2012) 'A brief pre-history of food waste and the social sciences', Sociological Review 60(S2), pp. 1-22. 


Food waste is a compelling and yet hugely under-researched area of interest for social scientists. In order to account for this neglect and to situate the fledgling body of social science scholarship that is starting to engage with food waste, the analysis here does a number of things. It explores the theoretical tendencies that have underpinned the invisibility of waste to the sociological gaze alongside the historical transitions in global food relations that led to the disappearance of concerns about food scarcity – and with them, concerns about food waste – from cultural and political life. It also sketches out some of the processes through which waste has recently (re-)emerged as a priority in the realms of food policy and regulation, cultural politics and environmental debate. Particular attention is paid to the intellectual trajectories that have complemented food waste's rising profile in popular and policy imaginations to call forth sociological engagement with the issue. With this in place, the stage is set for the individual contributions to this Sociological Review Monograph – papers that engage with food waste in a number of contexts, at a variety of scales and from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Together they represent the first attempt collectively to frame potential sociological approaches to understanding food waste.

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