Pedagogies of doing good: Problematisations, authorities, technologies and teleologies in food activism

Author/s: Rick Flowers and Elaine Swan

Edition: Volume 52, Number 3, November 2012

Summary: In this paper, we apply a framework from Nikolas Rose to analyse the politics of ‘doing good’ in food activist education, what we call food pedagogies. We argue that a detailed exploration of food pedagogies has been neglected in adult education and in the growing field of food studies, in spite of the rapidly proliferating forms and sites of food education, advice and learning in Australia and other countries. In contrast to other frameworks in adult education which focus on classifying approaches as behaviourist, humanist, progressive and radical, we deploy problematisations, technologies, authorities and teleologies. These latter ‘pathways’ move away from an abstract idea of ‘power as property’ and as coercive (Gore 1993) to an examination of ‘power as technique’ and as productive. Drawing on qualitative data with three different types of food activist educators – a biodynamic educator, health promotion manager and two farmer-activists, we show how Rose’s framework opens up our ideas about what can be seen as pedagogical to include the non-human and how adult educators authorise their claims to be doing good. We conclude by arguing that the differences in how each of these activists see food and health should not simply be seen as a difference in opinion but a difference in what Annemarie Mol (1999) calls ontological politics. In so doing, the paper contributes new findings and theorising on pedagogies to food studies, and a new analytic framework for analysing adult educator approaches and in particular their claims to be ‘doing good’.

Keywords: food pedagogy, food activism, adult education, behaviourist, humanist, progressive, radical, problematisations, technologies, authorities, teleologies

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This article is part of AJAL, Volume 52_3. The entire volume is available in .pdf for purchase here.

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