Lawrence Busch

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, United States

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Publications (66)112.79 Total impact

  • 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; , ISBN: 9780470670590
  • 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 01/2012; 6(2):217-231. · 0.44 Impact Factor
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    Agriculture and Human Values 01/2011; 28(3):335-344. · 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 01/2011; 28(3):345-352. · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • 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. · 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):507-536. · 1.04 Impact Factor
  • Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: KeywordsFood Safety-Regulatory governance
    Food Security 01/2010; 2(4). · 2.07 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 01/2010; · 1.36 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.
    Journal of Rural Social Sciences. 01/2010; 25:56-78.
  • 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. · 1.89 Impact Factor
  • 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. · 1.89 Impact Factor
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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.
    Food Control. 01/2009; 20(7):627-630.
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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. · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • Sociologia Ruralis 03/2008; 29(2):118 - 130. · 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. · 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
  • 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 01/2007; 36(3):437-466. · 1.70 Impact Factor
  • Maki Hatanaka, Carmen Bain, Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years the production and consumption of food have become both more transnational and diversified. Concurrent with these transformations has been the increasing use of standards to differentiate both agricultural products and processes. Historically standards were understood as “natural market lubricants,” but today they are increasingly viewed as tools for competitive advantage. As the use of standards has proliferated, the need to ensure compliance has also increased. Third-party certification (TPC) is one way to ensure compliance and it is becoming increasingly prominent in the global agrifood system. This chapter examines the complex effects that the widespread implementation of standards and TPC is having on the global agrifood system. What is occurring is not simple standardization and differentiation, but rather differentiated standardization and standardized differentiation. In the first instance, whereas we have standardization, it is differentiated, as multiple options remain. For example, while TPC for food safety and quality is becoming increasingly common, what such certification means continues to have considerable diversity. In the latter case, different kinds of agricultural practices are becoming standardized (i.e., organic). That is, difference (e.g., alternative agriculture) is becoming standardized, so that it is increasingly becoming the same globally. In concluding, we argue that standardization and differentiation are both taking place simultaneously in the global agrifood system, and that analyses of the globalization of food and agriculture must begin to recognize this.
    Research in rural sociology and development 09/2006; 12:39-68.
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    Michael Mascarenhas, Lawrence Busch
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    ABSTRACT: Seed saving is a historical cultural phenomenon that dates back to the beginning of agriculture itself. Seeds, because of their unique characteristics – the seed contains within itself the means for its own reproduction – have offered a particularly large stumbling block to capital accumulation. In the US, intellectual property rights legislation and Supreme Court decisions have played a profound role in overcoming these unique characteristics and have made it possible for input supply companies to extract more profit from the farm production process. Our analysis of the historical seed-saving practices of soybean farmers in the US indicates that large farms have consistently saved seed in the US – as much as 60 per cent in some years. However, with the introduction of Roundup Ready® soybeans the nature of seed saving was drastically changed. We argue that the combination of expanding intellectual property rights, ‘new’ GM technology, and the ideology of the technological treadmill have successfully overcome seeds’ inherent obstacles to capitalist accumulation. In capitalising nature's production, Monsanto and other leading seed corporations have been able to incur massive profits from the licensing of commercial seed supplies. As a result, US farmers are facing further loss of control of the farm production process.
    Sociologia Ruralis 03/2006; 46(2):122 - 138. · 1.36 Impact Factor
  • 12/2005: pages 137-155;

Publication Stats

835 Citations
112.79 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1994–2012
    • Michigan State University
      • Department of Sociology
      East Lansing, Michigan, United States
  • 2010–2011
    • Lancaster University
      Lancaster, England, United Kingdom
  • 1983–2008
    • University of Kentucky
      • Department of Sociology
      Lexington, KY, United States
  • 1982
    • Boulder County
      Boulder, Colorado, United States