Handbook of the International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Agriculture and Food

Edited by Alessandro Bonanno and Lawrence Busch

This book tackles the central question of the political and structural changes and characteristics that govern agriculture and food. Original contributions explore this highly globalized economic sector by analyzing salient geographical regions and substantive topics. Along with chapters that investigate agri-food in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Oceania, the book includes contributions that cover topics such as labor, science and technology, the financialization of agri-food, and supermarkets.
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Chapter 14: The political economy of alternative agriculture in Italy

Maria Fonte and Ivan Cucco


Modernization of the economy and agriculture in Italy occurred in a rapid but also unique manner following World War II. As in other Mediterranean countries, agriculture was long considered a backward sector afflicted by delays in its development. Notwithstanding the persistence of wide regional differences, farms across the country were generally small and were managed in accordance with a family farm logic, which was closer to the peasant model than to the economic rationality of the “American farmer.” Well into the 1980s the small scale of the farms was still regarded as an insurmountable obstacle to modernization of the sector and organization of a modern agro-food and distribution system. In the post-modernization era of the 1990s, when in Europe a new paradigm became the benchmark for agricultural and rural development, the gap in the industrialization of agriculture and food was transformed into an asset by many actors in the food system. Intended as a marker for variety in regional agriculture and food, “Made in Italy” was constructed as a quality brand and the basis for the “quality turn consensus” around which many conventional and alternative interests eventually coalesced (Brunori, Malandrin and Rossi 2013).

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