Lawrence Busch

Michigan State University, Ист-Лансинг, Michigan, United States

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Publications (75)136.48 Total impact

  • Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: We live in an age defined in large part by various facets of neoliberalism. In particular, the market world has impinged on virtually every aspect of food and agriculture. Moreover, most nation-states and many international governance bodies incorporate aspects of neoliberal perspectives. Multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs), with their own standards, certifications, and accreditations are evidence of both the continuing hegemony of neoliberalism as well as various responses to it. Importantly, to date even attempts to limit neoliberal hegemony through MSIs have been largely within the parameters established by those same neoliberal agendas. However, neoliberalism is itself in crisis as a result of climate change, the continuing financial crisis, and rising food prices. The founding myths of neoliberalism are still widely held, having the effect of closing off alternative paths to the future. Yet, this need not be the case. Alternatives to the current MSIs that promote justice, democracy, and equality can still be constructed.
    Agriculture and Human Values 09/2014; 31(3):513-523. DOI:10.1007/s10460-014-9510-x · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • Toby A. Ten Eyck · Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Art critics straddle the boundaries between art worlds and the public. To legitimate and maintain this role, critics must be able to justify their standing as judges of the creation and display of art. This article draws on Boltanski’s and Thévenot’s work on the sorts of justifications which arise when joint action is interrupted. Specifically, we look at the justifications embedded in two seemingly disparate critiques – one from Clement Greenberg dating from the 1950s and another by Michael Kimmelman from the 2000s. An investigation of the justifications used within these critiques – separated by over five decades – reveals how boundaries between art and its public have been generated and maintained over the years.
    Cultural Sociology 05/2012; 6(2):217-231. DOI:10.1177/1749975512440228 · 0.44 Impact Factor
  • Allison Loconto · John V. Stone · Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Standards are exemplary measures against which people and things are judged. They can be informal, resembling norms and habits; they can also be formal, resembling laws or written codes of conduct or embedded in material objects. Both formal and informal standards are involved in nearly every aspect of human life. However, we will use the term “standards” to refer exclusively to “formal standards” which are those that are primarily invoked in global governance. In order for formal standards to create and keep the ordering that is intended by their use, a number of elements employed: (i) processes for certifying compliance to the standards, (ii) processes for accrediting the certifiers who audit the standards, and (iii) relatively clear sanctions for violation of these standards. Generally referred to as “conformity assessment,” these processes traverse and integrate the public and private sectors domestically and internationally. As such, formal standards are part of a “tripartite standards regime” (TSR), which is a regime of governance that consists of standards-setting, accreditation, and certification (Loconto & Busch 2010). These three processes involved in constructing a TSR emerged pragmatically at different times and in different geographic spaces beginning in the late nineteenth century.
    01/2012: pages 2044-2051; Blackwell Publishing Ltd., ISBN: 9780470670590
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    Doris Fuchs · Agni Kalfagianni · Jennifer Clapp · Lawrence Busch
    Agriculture and Human Values 09/2011; 28(3):335-344. DOI:10.1007/s10460-011-9310-5 · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, we have witnessed three parallel and intertwined trends: First, food retail and processing firms have embraced private standards, usually with some form of third party certification employed to verify adherence to those standards. Second, firms have increasingly aligned themselves with, as opposed to fighting off, environmental, fair trade, and other NGOs. Third, firms have embraced supply chain management as a strategy for increasing profits and market share. Together, these trends are part and parcel of the neoliberal blurring of the older liberal distinction between state and civil society. In this paper I ask what the implications of these changes are from the vantage point of the three major approaches to ethics: consequentialism, virtue theory, and rights theory. What are the consequences of these changes for food safety, for suppliers, for consumers? What virtues (e.g., trust, fairness) are these changes likely to embrace and what vices may accompany them? Whose rights will be furthered or curtailed by these changes? KeywordsGovernance–Retailing–Certification–Standards
    Agriculture and Human Values 09/2011; 28(3):345-352. DOI:10.1007/s10460-009-9210-0 · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • Lawrence Busch · Kyle Powys Whyte
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    ABSTRACT: As Paul B. Thompson suggests in his recent seminal paper, “‘There’s an App for That’: Technical Standards and Commodification by Technological Means,” technical standards restructure property (and other social) relations. He concludes with the claim that the development of technical standards of commodification can serve purposes with bad effects such as “the rise of the factory system and the deskilling of work” or progressive effects such as how “technical standards for animal welfare… discipline the unwanted consequences of market forces.” In this reply, we want to append several points to his argument and suggest that he rightly points out that standards can promote various goods; however, there are peculiar powers wielded by standardization processes that might profitably be unpacked more systematically than Thompson's article seems to suggest. First, the concealment of the technopolitics around standards is largely due to their peculiar ontological status as recipes for reality. Second, technical standards can and do commit violence against persons, but such violence is often suffered not in the formation of class consciousness, as Marx might have put it, but as a failure to conform to the laws of nature.
    06/2011; 25(2). DOI:10.1007/s13347-011-0048-1
  • Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: KeywordsFood Safety-Regulatory governance
    Food Security 12/2010; 2(4). DOI:10.1007/s12571-010-0076-1 · 1.64 Impact Factor
  • Jason Konefal · Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Using the case of corn and soybean production, this article examines the development of a market of multitudes in agrifood systems. With the introduction of genetically modified varieties, corn and soy production have undergone significant standardisation. However, the market for non-genetically modified corn and soybeans has simultaneously proliferated. Thus, there are now multiple market streams for corn and soy that, we argue, has given rise to a new organisational model, namely supply chain management. Using data collected from a survey, interviews and web analyses we examine how supply chain management is being implemented in non-genetically modified corn and soybean production. Specifically, we examine the use of identity preservation programmes, standards, audits and testing, and the benefits and limitations of such an organisational model for different actors. In concluding, we argue that the shift towards a market of multitudes is creating opportunities for producers and consumers but also poses a number of ethical challenges.
    Sociologia Ruralis 10/2010; 50(4). DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9523.2010.00510.x · 1.36 Impact Factor
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    Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: The last half century has witnessed dramatic socio-technical changes in the agrifood sector, restructuring both city and countryside in radical ways. On the one hand, new genetic, genomic, transport and information technologies have become commonplace. On the other hand, new forms of intellectual property and new institutional structures have emerged. In particular, supply chain management and certification of suppliers have become commonplace activities among input suppliers and supermarket chains. At the same time various forms of resistance ranging from farmers' markets to organic production to fair trade have arisen. Why? Using the methods and insights of science studies, I argue that both agribusiness firms and their detractors have acted in response to the successful performances of neoliberalism in national and international settings. Hence, the current agrifood sector may be best understood as the product of continually evolving, and often conflict-ridden, negotiations between neoliberals, their supporters (who love it selectively) and their detractors. The moral of the story: fairy tales can come true, but they usually have surprise endings.
    Sociologia Ruralis 09/2010; 50(4):331 - 351. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9523.2010.00511.x · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • Allison Loconto · Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: This paper explores the construction of what the authors term a ‘tripartite standards regime’ (TSR) by looking at the pragmatic emergence of standards development organizations (SDOs) and national accreditation bodies (NABs). The authors explain how, through their network of audit, the TSR is entangling intermediaries and processes into specific supply chains. Moreover, they argue that the emphasis placed on the role of ‘metrology’ is overstated in the literature. Rather, the concept of ‘standards’ better captures the more complex, underlying processes involved in the construction of the TSR. They present evidence gathered through a review of data collected from SDOs’ and NABs’ websites, official documents, international trade agreements, and the directories published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the International Organization for Standardization. They argue that the TSR acts as a techno-economic network that is global in reach and serves a key coordinating role in facilitating international trade. As such they see the TSR as fundamental to the movement towards ‘governing at a distance’ that is part and parcel of the neoliberal shift from government to governance.
    Review of International Political Economy 08/2010; 17(3-3):507-536. DOI:10.1080/09692290903319870 · 1.04 Impact Factor
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    Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: The last several centuries have been marked first by a tendency toward the use of standards to standardize, and then by the use of standards to differentiate. Both have been built on the legal edifice of the state. More recently, in response to the rapid rise of neoliberalism, standardized differentiation has increased in scope and has become part of a larger Tripartite Standards Regime (TSR) consisting of standards, certifications, and accreditations. Over the last half century, the TSR has grown to cover nearly every aspect of social life. In many ways this new form of governance replaces and transmutes positive law, which is a product of the state, with its market equivalent. Yet, the TSR leaves much to be desired as a form of governance. The recent financial collapse should give us pause to ask whether the path we have constructed for ourselves can lead us to the desired destination. As Michel Callon (1998; Callon, Millo, and Muniesa 2007) and others (e.g., MacKenzie, Muniesa, and Siu 2007) have argued, economies are performed. Put differently, without people engaged in certain relatively well-defined and organized activities, economies simply do not exist. Moreover, from this perspective, economists not only study economies, measuring various aspects of their performance; through their theoretical perspectives, measurement devices, and policy initiatives, they propose and enact particular ways to perform the economy. Thus, there is a necessarily reflexive character to economics. The words and actions of economists tend themselves to be used to (re)shape the economy. Furthermore, just as a play may be performed in a way that is faithful to the script, may be performed well or badly, may be a brilliant production or a dismal failure, so may economic performances. Markets have been around since the beginnings of recorded history and perhaps before. People produced various things for their own use. Whatever was left over, despite quality, they attempted to sell in the market if a buyer were available. If not, they kept those things so that they might try to sell them again later.
  • Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract The problem of order is central to all societies. Bacon, Hobbes and Smith each proposed to resolve the problem of order by investing moral authority in a “Leviathan” that would guarantee order: science, state and market, respectively. Later scholars adapted their works to other ends. But putting the Leviathans into practice had the unintended effect of relieving individuals of moral responsibility and creating wide-spread disorder. Widespread networks of democracy in all spheres of social life are proposed as an alternative solution to the problem of order, one that encourages the collective discovery of moral values.Such networks put moral responsibility neither on the shoulders of individuals where it becomes crushingly heavy, nor on society where it becomes unbearably light.
    Rural Sociology 10/2009; 64(1):2 - 17. DOI:10.1111/j.1549-0831.1999.tb00002.x · 1.89 Impact Factor
  • Keiko Tanaka · Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Not all commodities are things, nor are all things available in society commodities. Then, what are commodities? Using the case of rapeseed and its products in China, this paper examines the role of grades and standards (G&S) in simultaneously determining the life of things as commodities and the position of humans as market participants. In the first section, we summarize our conceptual understandings of commodities. Next, the paper examines tests and trials to which rapeseed in China were subjected by the mid 1990s. We then discuss how G&S represent political processes among commodity chain actors for creating, legitimizing and maintaining the social relations between things and people. Lastly, we discuss our conclusion that the analysis of tests and trials helps us understand the process of commodification as simultaneous transformations of humans and things in a commodity chain while reorganizing linkages among these actors.
    Rural Sociology 10/2009; 68(1):25 - 45. DOI:10.1111/j.1549-0831.2003.tb00127.x · 1.89 Impact Factor
  • Hongping Fan · Zhihua Ye · Weijun Zhao · Heshan Tian · Yamei Qi · Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Investigations of certification agencies were conducted in four Chinese cities: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Qingdao. Based on an analysis of the data and information obtained, the status and character of agro-food certification in China were assessed. The main obstacle for development of agro-food certification was identified as the lack of market acceptance for it. In conclusion, the paper provides some suggestions for improving agro-food certification in China. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Food Control 07/2009; 20(7):627-630. DOI:10.1016/j.foodcont.2008.09.013 · 2.82 Impact Factor
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    Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: The advent of the new nanotechnologies has been heralded by government, media, and many in the scientific community as the next big thing. Within the agricultural sector research is underway on a wide variety of products ranging from distributed intelligence in orchards, to radio frequency identification devices, to animal diagnostics, to nanofiltered food products. But the nano-revolution (if indeed there is a revolution at all) appears to be taking a turn quite different from the biotechnology revolution of two decades ago. Grappling with these issues will require abandoning both the exuberance of diffusion theory and ex post facto criticism of new technologies as well in favor of a more nuanced and proactive view that cross the fault line between the social and natural sciences.
    Agriculture and Human Values 05/2008; 25(2):215-218. DOI:10.1007/s10460-008-9119-z · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • LAWRENCE BUSCH · ALESSANDRO BONANNO · WILLIAM B. LACY
    Sociologia Ruralis 03/2008; 29(2):118 - 130. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9523.1989.tb00361.x · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • Maki Hatanaka · Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Third-party certification (TPC) is becoming an integral component of the global agrifood system. However, little is known about its functions, structures and practices. In this article we examine the emergence of TPC as a governance mechanism, its organisational structure, and its practices. Distinguishing between two forms of ‘independence’– organisational and operational – we argue that TPC exhibits organisational, but not operational independence. Thus, in contrast to the view of TPC as an objective governance mechanism, we argue that TPC is embedded in social, political and economic networks. This finding, we argue, raises questions as to how TPC is structured and operates, who gets to decide the ways it is structured and operates, and the ways that TPC might differentially impact on actors in the food and agricultural sector.
    Sociologia Ruralis 02/2008; 48(1):73 - 91. DOI:10.1111/j.1467-9523.2008.00453.x · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • Lawrence Busch · Allison Loconto · Xueshi Li
    Proceedings of the Third Afrasian International Symposium "Resources under Stress: Sustainability of the Local Community in Asia and Africa, 23-24 February 2008, Kyoto, Japan; 01/2008
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    NILS M PETERSON · Shawn J. Riley · LAWRENCE BUSCH · JIANGUO LIU
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    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT To reach its potential wildlife management needs a coherent purpose. Traditional divisions between science, society, and nature, however, create conflicts between responsibility to science, the public, and nature. These divisions emerged as early as Plato's (400 BC) allegory of the cave. In Plato's allegory human society existed inside a cave formed by its own delusions, and a philosopher or scientist could leave the cave and apprehend reality in nature. Wildlife management's simultaneous responsibility to public preferences, objective truth, and biotic integrity provides the foundation for a conservation worldview capable of transcending the divisions embodied in Plato's allegory. In this paper we deconstruct the conflicted worldview standing on that foundation and describe a land community-based worldview for wildlife management that could replace it. The transition from traditional views of science, society, and nature to a land community worldview requires 1) changing scientific stewardship from seeking objective truth to seeking credible truth, 2) changing political stewardship from following societal dictates to representing wildlife within the land community, and 3) changing ethical stewardship from protecting biotic integrity to fighting permanent closure of land community boundaries. Adopting a land community worldview for wildlife management requires relinquishing the illusion of absolute objectivity and a fall from status as neutral arbiters of knowledge but provides a means for honorably seeking reliable knowledge, serving the public and respecting the land community.
    Journal of Wildlife Management 11/2007; 71(8):2499-2506. DOI:10.2193/2007-090 · 1.61 Impact Factor
  • Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Callon and Hilgartner, respectively, have argued that the economy and technoscience are performed and that neoclassical economics (NE) and scientific reports should be interpreted as performances. Building on that theme, it is argued here that the ongoing transformations collectively known as globalization signal a new way of thinking about and performing both economics and technoscience: supply chain management (SCM). A comparison of SCM with NE models reveals shifts in both the theoretical focus of its proponents and the reactions of critics. Recent developments in the agrifood sector are used to illustrate the argument.
    Economy and Society 08/2007; 36(3):437-466. DOI:10.1080/03085140701428399 · 1.70 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
136.48 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1994–2014
    • Michigan State University
      • Department of Sociology
      Ист-Лансинг, Michigan, United States
  • 2010–2011
    • Lancaster University
      Lancaster, England, United Kingdom
  • 1983–2008
    • University of Kentucky
      • Department of Sociology
      Lexington, KY, United States
  • 2007
    • Cornell University
      Итак, New York, United States
  • 1982
    • Boulder County
      Boulder, Colorado, United States