Dissertation Abstracts

The Field of Organic Food in Israel: Globalization and Alter-Globalization

Author: Grosglik, Rafi , rafig@post.bgu.ac.il
Department: Sociology and Anthropology
University: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Supervisor: Prof. Uri Ram
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: Hebrew

Keywords: Cultural Globalization , Israeli Culinary Culture , Bourdieusian Theory , Organic Food
Areas of Research: Agriculture and Food , Local-Global Relations , Communication, Knowledge and Culture


In my dissertation, I offer a critical analysis of a facet of contemporary culinary culture in Israel – the organic food culture. The study deals with the circumstances of the arrival of organic food to the Israeli table, its emergence as a distinct cultural field, and the tensions and paradoxes that exist in this field. The study analyses how consumers, producers and retailers characterize organic food and how organic food is anchored in the local and global social experience. The discrepancy between the perception of organic food and reality is the starting point of my critical analysis. My study provided an empirical analysis and theoretical explanation of the paradoxes inherent in organic food and the different aspects embodied in it as a symbolic object. These paradoxes are revealed in the Israeli cultural discourse in which organic food is used as a marker of familiarity in global cultural trends, but also as a marker of locality. On the one hand, organic food consumption is seen as an expression of hedonism, individualism and engagement in personal health. On the other hand, organic food indicates environmental responsibility and social solidarity. My study reveals that these paradoxes arise out of a series of meetings and confrontations between the global and the local, which occurs in Israeli society and culture. The Israeli organic food culture – with its material and symbolic complexity - reveals how, at times, structural processes of global culture are internalized and assimilated in the daily actions of different players, even if they are operating from the bottom and even if they intend to represent an alternative, resistance or locality. At the same time, my study also shows how actions related to everyday material objects which bear local and alter-global (alternative to global) images (actions and objects originating from the bottom) actually constitute a global cultural experience.