Growing a lifestyle movement? Exploring identity-work and lifestyle politics in urban food cultivation

Karin Dobernig, Sigrid Stagl

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


This article elaborates how consumers engage with global socioecological issues on an everyday basis through adopting local lifestyles that comprise both consumption and production activities. Using urban food cultivation as an illustrative case, we highlight how devotion to co-production can work as a counter-hegemonic strategy of the political consumer. Building on qualitative data generated through 28 problem-centred interviews with urban farmers and regular volunteers from a total of 12 different urban agriculture projects in New York City, the study discerns the motivational mechanisms and ascribed meanings underlying people's propensity to grow food in the city. Findings show that urban food cultivation is driven by entangled, nonprioritized motives that include personal desires as well as socioecological concerns. Moreover, urban food cultivation supports processes of reflexive identity-formation while it allows its adherents to indulge in a shared ethos of re-engagement with nature, meaningful work and authenticity. While not engaging in conventional protests or political processes, urban agriculture advocates are assured that by reorienting their everyday consumption practices and participating in local food cultivation, they collectively can induce social change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452 - 458
JournalInternational Journal of Consumer Studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this