This will be the first project to explore the full and growing field of artisanal production and consumption in Australia. By understanding the meaning and values underpinning people’s choices, and not just counting their economic effects, the project will be able to understand how small-scale and artisanal producers have sought to maintain sustainable businesses through pandemic recovery, the cultural identities and discourses in play in the selling of Australian-made goods, and how locally made artisanal products can inclusively reach wider markets.

imagee81hm.pngArtisanal practices have taken on new and more diverse characteristics as the local has become an important site of action during the pandemic, directly linked to supply chain impacts, global mobilities (or their absence), and the need to be more attentive to how and where we shop and produce. However, the issue of affordability continues to haunt the contemporary artisanal sector, with the higher cost of the artisanal raising ongoing questions about equality and access. Who is able to ‘turn to the local’ (either as a producer or consumer), and what does this mean for the sustainability and growth of local artisanal production?

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Responding to calls to consider local production and consumption in a more complex, holistic way than has dominated studies to date, we approach economic decision-making as deeply connected to the meanings, identities and values of producers and consumers. In order to fully understand the significance of market demand for the local and its opportunities and barriers for the growth of Australian production, this project takes a critical cultural studies approach, in order to reveal the nuanced meanings of the ‘local’. Focusing on locally produced food and household goods and offering an integrated analysis of the interaction between producers, consumers and media and marketing texts, this project will explore the discourses and practices shaping local artisanal economies and identify new ways in which markets for the artisanal can be sustainably realised and grown.

About the project

imageplktr.pngThis project builds upon the previous collaborative work of the CIs, bringing together their respective expertise as media and cultural scholars exploring food (Dr Phillipov) and craft (Prof Luckman) economies and their social worlds. Through this joint research, we have identified multiple alignments between food and craft economies and the ways in which they have become vehicles for a larger reimagining of ideal middle-class modes of living across much of the Global North. Central to this is the way that both sectors mobilise similar, and often intertwined, discourses that champion the local alongside other powerful cultural ideals around authenticity, retreat and the celebration of the artisanal.

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The research will consist of three primary activities:

1. analysis of media and cultural discourses, and government, social enterprise and NGO policy initiatives;

2. a national survey of consumers; and

3. semi-structured interviews and digital ‘scroll backs’ with small-scale Australian producers.

These methods will allow us to go beyond analysis of individual production or consumption sectors to investigate the broader ecosystems in which local production and consumption occurs, thereby revealing the intersections and opportunities of artisanal and small-scale production as a broader field.

Funding

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Research team
University of Adelaide:  Dr Michelle Phillipov
University of South Australia: Professor Susan Luckman

Resources/Publications
Luckman, Susan and Michelle Phillipov (2020), ‘‘I’d (still) rather be a cyborg than a hipster’: The artisanal dispositif and the return of the (domestic) goddess’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877919899959.

Key contact
Professor Susan Luckman