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Abstract

The work aims at formulating hypothesis on the actual alterity (Kirwan, 2004) of those realities that either define themselves or have been considered in the Calabria political, social and scientific contexts as examples of “filiere corte”, that is as food practices characterised by the AFN (Alternative Food Networks) features, in the way they have been defined by the international scientific literature. The study rises from the need to avoid the “conceptual conflation” (Tregear, 2011), which biased the AFN comprehension at the international level and is finding a fertile land within the Italian scientific and empiric reality where scholars discuss the “filiere corte” initiatives in the frame of the AFN studies although warning on the possibility of overlapping existing practices typical of an agri-food system that is not completely modernised (Malassis e Ghersi, 1998; Rossi et al., 2008). Concerning this last point Calabria doesn’t lag behind requiring an investigation on the actual nature and alterity of those realities framed among the “filiera corta” initiatives. Favouring a theoretical frame that allows considering the existing realities as dynamically interacting, rather than opposing each other, Convention Theory is the theoretical starting point operationalized through the Granovetter (1985) concept of “emebeddedness”: “filiere corte” are identified as one of the possible conventions organizing the Calabria agri-food system and shaping in the relation with the other agri-food, political and social systems. After an empiric analysis, three general typologies have been identified among those either self-defined or recognised as “filiere corte”: Farmer’s Market, GAS and GODO. Moreover three hypothesis on their technical, social and political “alterity” have been introduced: in the first case it could derive from their ability to close the food chain, merging supply and demand; secondly it could be founded on their capacity to stimulate local form of social cooperation; third they seem to require an innovative participatory approach in order to be politically framed. Each of the three hypothesis are theoretically elaborated and require further empirical tests.

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