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Seeing farmers' markets: Theoretical and media perspectives on new sites of exchange in New Zealand

In this paper we explore the extent to which a reciprocal relationship exists between contemporary theorisation about farmers' markets in geography and the rapidly expanding public discourse surrounding these sites of exchange in New Zealand. Activities branded as farmers' markets are seen widely as local phenomena of systemic significance for the understanding of evolving geographies of production, consumption and exchange. As something ‘new’ on the landscape, farmers' markets also attract attention in the media. An electronic database of significant print media contributions over the period 1995 to 2007 provides the empirical basis for an assessment of the extent to which theorisation and the public discourse address common themes. Our analysis indicates that, while the economic and social constructions in both the research literature and the media database share common themes, strong contrasts in ways of ‘seeing’ farmers' markets are apparent. We note the predilection in the print media to present the nature and purpose of farmers' markets through the personal experiences and ‘stories’ of participants. There is a tendency to focus on the appeal of markets to the consumers who form the readership base. The theorised alterity of the farmers' market, either in terms of production methods or motivations for consumption, is not reflected strongly in media reports, and this raises questions about ‘over-theorisation’ in the academic literature. Our aim is to promote reflection in both the editorial offices of the media and in the academy by documenting the nature of these contrasting views.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Chalmers, L., Joseph, A.E. & Smithers, J. (2009). Seeing farmers' markets: Theoretical and media perspectives on new sites of exchange in New Zealand. Geographical Research, 47(3), 320-330.
Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
© 2009 The Authors.