West Virginia University Press has published The Contradictions of Neoliberal Agri-Food: Corporations, Resistance, and Disasters in Japan by Kae Sekine and Alessandro Bonanno.

Employing original fieldwork, historical analysis and sociological theory, Sekine and Bonanno probe how Japan’s food and agriculture sectors have been shaped by the global push toward privatization and corporate power, known in the social science literature as neoliberalism. They also examine related changes that have occurred after the triple disaster of March 2011 (the earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor), noting that reconstruction policy has favored deregulation and the reduction of social welfare.

Sekine and Bonanno stress the incompatibility of the requirements of neoliberalism with the structural and cultural conditions of Japanese agri-food. Local farmers’ and fishermen’s emphasis on community collective management of natural resources, they argue, clashes with neoliberalism’s focus on individualism and competitiveness. The authors conclude by pointing out the resulting fundamental contradiction: The lack of recognition of this incompatibility allows the continuous implementation of market solutions to problems that originate in these very market mechanisms.

Geoffrey Lawrence of the University of Queensland notes, “at a time when there is much over-generalization about neoliberalism and its global impacts, this provocative and revealing book provides a detailed case study of Japan, presenting a clear picture of how neoliberal settings – in supporting a corporate agri-food agenda – have worked against small farmers and fisher-folk. It is a fascinating, illuminating, and, ultimately, sobering analysis.”

Shuzo Teruoka, author of “Agriculture in the Modernization of Japan, 1850-2000” calls this book “a novel and incisive analysis of the corporatization of Japanese agriculture and its acceleration after the triple disaster of March 2011. Groundbreaking.”

Kae Sekine is associate professor of economics at Aichi Gakuin University, Nagoya, Japan. Alessandro Bonanno is Texas State University System Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Sam Houston State University.

“The Contradictions of Neoliberal Agri-Food” is part of the Rural Studies Series, a series that promotes the scholarly analysis of rural social issues. RSS plays a vital role in publishing high quality scholarship aimed at improving the lives of rural people. The series has been especially effective in bringing to the attention of national- and state-level policy makers the policy and program suggestions arising from the research presented in its volumes. Sponsored by the Rural Sociological Society, the Rural Studies Series features books on a wide range of topics related to rural social issues. Of special interest are studies examining community and rural social organization, the social dimensions of agriculture, rural populations and economies, natural resources and the environment, and rural poverty and livelihood strategies.

Publication date: August 2016
280pp/PB 978-1-943665-19-8: $32.99/ebook 978-1-943665-20-4: $32.99

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