Michael Carolan’s new book, The Sociology of Food and Agriculture published by Earthscan

As interest has increased in topics such as the globalization of the agrifood system, food security, and food safety, the subjects of food and agriculture are making their way into a growing number of courses in disciplines within the social sciences and the humanities, like sociology and food studies. This book is an introductory textbook aimed at undergraduate students, and is suitable for those with little or no background in sociology.

The author starts by looking at the recent development of agriculture under capitalism and neo-liberal regimes and the transformation of farming from a small-scale, family-run business to a globalized system. The consequent changes in rural employment and role of multinationals in controlling markets are described. Topics such as the global hunger and obesity challenges, GM foods, and international trade and subsidies are assessed as part of the world food economy. The second section of the book focuses on community impacts, food and culture, and diversity. Later chapters examine topics such as food security, alternative and social movements, food sovereignty, local versus global, and fair trade. All chapters include learning objectives and recommendations for further reading to aid student learning.


“This is critical sociology at its best. In this introductory text, Carolan goes behind the scenes of the global agrifood industry to examine the complex socio-economic and political arrangements that shape food production and consumption. Presenting the latest findings from internationally-based research, the book highlights the structural causes of present-day concerns about hunger, obesity, rural social disadvantage, farmer dispossession, supermarket power and environmental degradation. Oppositional movements challenging the current system of food provision are also discussed in detail.

Carolan is one of the foremost writers in contemporary agrifood studies and he has fashioned a book that provides an up-to-date, informative and highly readable overview of the global agrifood system. The book will have immediate appeal to students, policy-makers and all those concerned about the future of food and farming.”
– Geoffrey Lawrence, Professor of Sociology, Head of Sociology and Criminology and Food Security Focal Area Co-Leader at the Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Australia.

Colorado State University