Interdisciplinarity and boundary work: Challenges and opportunities for agrifood studies

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Abstract

Despite its vigor, agrifood studies research faces two fault lines: the durability of disciplines, and challenges in engaging non-academic stakeholders. In this essay, I use the concept of boundary work from social studies of science and technology to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for more engaged interdisciplinary research in agrifood studies. I draw on recent field visits to several "sustainable food chain" research projects funded through the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU), an innovative interdisciplinary research initiative of the UK Research Councils, to highlight the contradictory nature of boundary work in interdisciplinary research. Involving efforts both to bridge interfaces and to separate, exclude and manage other disciplines or stakeholders, boundary work is inherent to interdisciplinarity. Innovations in the organizational culture of projects and in the larger structural context for research can multiply the more generative potential of boundary work, and also yield more and better interdisciplinary research in agrifood studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-213
Number of pages5
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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