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Some observations on Stephen Dunn’s ‘The modern food industry and public health: A Galbraithian perspective’ Robert McMaster, University of Glasgow.

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Presentation on theme: "Some observations on Stephen Dunn’s ‘The modern food industry and public health: A Galbraithian perspective’ Robert McMaster, University of Glasgow."— Presentation transcript:

1 Some observations on Stephen Dunn’s ‘The modern food industry and public health: A Galbraithian perspective’ Robert McMaster, University of Glasgow

2 “The final problem of the productive society is what it produces. This manifests itself as an implacable tendency to provide an opulent supply of some things and a niggardly yield of others” (JK Galbraith, 1958: 202, The Affluent Society).

3 “We set great store by the increase in private wealth … Vacuum cleaners to ensure clean houses are praise-worthy and essential in our standard of living. Street cleaners to ensure clean streets are an unfortunate expense. Partly as a result, our houses are generally clean and our streets generally filthy” (JK Galbraith, 1958: 130, The Affluent Society).

4 Structure of Discussion A Brief Outline of Dunn’s Case Some (Sympathetic) Critical Observations

5 A Brief Outline of Dunn’s Case Emphasises Galbraith’s notions of: Malleable individual ‘Technostructure’ class  Revised sequence (want management) Multi-dimensional nature of firm power (in agriculture) Social costs of production are not borne by producers ‘Countervailing power’  Food retailers  Consumer groups

6 Paper sets out: “to explore a range of regulatory responses” (Dunn, 2011: 2)

7 Some (Sympathetic) Critical Observations Analysis can be seen within Galbraith’s over- arching schema: paramount position of production; toleration of underclass Food retailers as source of ‘countervailing power’?  Nuances of retailing and production – vertical integration  ‘Corporate social responsibility’: producers v. consumers?  Ethical consumption

8 Policy implications and public health  International context (uneven development) “Most of all (the findings of the report) emphasize the global gap between the haves and the have-nots by showing just how much of the world’s burden is the result of undernutrition among the poor and overnutrition among those who are better off, wherever they live. The contrast is shocking.… At the same time that there are 170 million children in poor countries who are underweight … there are more than one billion adults worldwide who are overweight” (World Health Organization, 2002: 8).


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