Who’s responsible for food waste? Consumers, retailers and the food waste discourse coalition in the United Kingdom

Daniel Welch, Joanne Swaffield, David Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

10 Citations (Scopus)
173 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Drawing on empirical research, including interviews with 38 key informants, this article examines how the challenge of food waste reduction has come to be framed, interpreted and responded to in the United Kingdom, focusing on household food waste and the interface between supermarkets and households. We identify a ‘discourse coalition’ arising from collective actors central to the issue that has achieved discursive hegemony over the framing of food waste as a problem. We analyse this discourse coalition – its core storylines, actors and practices – and the conditions that have enabled its emergence. Critical accounts of sustainable consumption commonly note the ‘responsibilisation of the consumer’: or the reduction of systemic issues to the individualised, behavioural choices of the ‘sovereign consumer’. We find, by contrast, that the ‘responsibilised consumer’ is by no means the discourse coalition’s dominant framing of the problem of household food waste. Instead, its dominant framing is that of distributed responsibility: responsibility distributed throughout the production–consumption system. The article also contributes towards understanding why retailers have embraced household food waste reduction as an object of intervention without framing the issue as one of, primarily, consumer responsibility.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Early online date17 May 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 May 2018

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