ABSTRACT

The concept of ‘food régimes’ developed in the 1980s out of the French school of ‘regulation theory’, which itself had been applied mainly to the analysis of the non-agricultural economy (Aglietta 1979, Lipietz 1987). Following Noel (1987), regulationists interpret capitalist development broadly as a sequence of time periods, each period having a specific institutional framework with corresponding norms as regards the organization of production, income distribution, exchange of products and consumption. These distinct time periods within capitalism are termed ‘régimes of accumulation’. The first (‘extensive’) régime is interpreted as lasting from the mid-nineteenth century until World War I; a second (‘intensive’) régime was established from the end of World War II until the early 1970s; and a third régime has been in the making since the 1980s. Régimes of accumulation are separated by crises of capitalism, as illustrated by the 1930s depression between the first and second régimes and the global recession of the 1970s, following the oil crisis of 1973-74, between the second and third régimes. The terms ‘Fordist’ and ‘post-Fordist’ have been used as convenient labels for the second and third régimes, erroneously in the view of Goodman and Watts (1994), although a number of alternatives have been developed to describe the third régime, including ‘flexible accumulation’ and ‘flexible specialization’.