1 Integrated Geographical and Social Studies, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 Department of Agroecology - Agricultural Systems and Sustainability, Department of Agroecology, Science and Technology, Aarhus University3 Department of Agroecology - Agricultural Systems and Sustainability, Department of Agroecology, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
The Danish market for organic food is distinguished among other European countries by a high market share of organic products. This can be interpreted in different ways. One interpretation is the that these developments is a case of an alternative becoming mainstream, which erases the distinctive features of the once ‘alternative’. Another interpretation is that the development of the organic market has created new, alternative economic spaces, which has and will continue to redefine the ‘rules of the game’. The aim of the paper is to address this issue, using the development of the Danish market for organic food as the field of inquiry and in particular the evolution of producer-consumer relations in the period 1970-2011. The data used in the paper comes from a historical study of the development of the Danish organic market, studies of recent innovative initiatives, operating on both regional as well as national scales, as well as a recent survey of Danish eco-communities. Since developments within the ‘mainstream’ has been subject to extensive research, the paper will focus specifically on how ‘alternative’ as well as ‘radical’ agendas within the organic movement have evolved during the period studied. A significant process of marginalization of ‘radical’ organic activists took place during the 1980’s as dominant fractions within the organic movement sought to professionalize the organic movement. Many of the radical fractions thus went ‘below the radar’, as the organic mainstream gained entry into retail chains on national scale during the 1990s. But the ‘alternative’ and ‘radical’ part of the field of organic food has continued to evolve, even though it has not been subject to much academic interest. Some of the conclusions are that some of the recent initiatives point towards new economic spaces, but of a different nature than imagined by the radical agendas present within the field during the 1970s. In terms of theory, the study utilized a relational approach, inspired by the structurationist theories of Bourdieu and Giddens.