Revisiting the 'Urban Bias' and its relationship to food security

Jane Dixon, Philip McMichael

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Accentuating both damaging environmental change and food insecurity, we focus on the dynamics between national development policies and food systems. Using Liptons urban bias hypothesis, we position citizen-consumers as a pre-eminent socio-political force facilitated by the urbanrural power relations underpinning the food system. Urban consumers particularly benefit from industrial food systems through cheap food and from cheap manufacturing and service sector labour, released as rural populations become marginal to agricultural productivity gains. Consequently, many cities overflow with redundant workers, while rural areas contain impoverished, insecure agrarian populations often tied to global supermarket supply chains. For these populations, food security can be elusive. While Liptons argument applied to three and more decades ago, his hypothesis that policies favour urban populations when policies pursuing economic growth are based on a presumed natural coupling between rural outmigration and urban manufacturing jobs could apply more contemporaneously. We apply key urban bias concepts to the unfolding of events in Thailand, detecting conditional support for the hypothesis. We conclude by canvassing food system actions to counter the urban bias with a more ecological view of urbanrural interdependencies linked to sustainable food production and consumption.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHealth of People, Places and Planet: Reflections based on AJ (Tony) McMichael's four decades of contribution to epidemiological understanding
    EditorsColin Butler, Jane Dixon & Anthony Capon
    Place of PublicationCanberra
    PublisherANU Press
    ISBN (Print)9781925022407
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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