Actor-Network Theory, Artisan Food Processors, and Food Safety Inspectors

I completed my PhD in 2013 in the agrifood studies program of an interdisciplinary social sciences department at Michigan State University, the Department of Community Sustainability (formerly Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies). My dissertation research concerned artisan food processing and food safety regulation in Michigan. Artisan production operations, for purposes of this research, are operations which involve handcrafting methods and in which the producer is closely involved at each step of the process.

My research is qualitative, using a theoretical approach drawn from sociology of agriculture and science and technology studies, in particular from actor-network theory. I am interested in the interactions between producers and food safety inspectors during enforcement of regulations, and I am intrigued by the idea that policy is made in enforcement just as it is made in more formal policymaking processes. I hope that this research informs policies to encourage this segment of the agrifood sector in Michigan and the US.

Recently published:
Buckley, Jenifer A. 2015. Food safety regulation and small processing: A case study of interactions between processors and inspectors. Food Policy 51: 74-82. Available on request or at for journal subscribers, or see manuscript here.

This work was supported by a University Distinguished Fellowship from Michigan State University, with grants from the National Science Foundation (Award # SES-1230878) and the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (Award # GNC10-134), and funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

I am now furthering this work in the capacity of Business Development Facilitator with the Organic Processing Institute in Middleton (Madison), Wisconsin.

Curriculum vitae

“...I am intrigued by the idea that policy is ‘made’ in enforcement just as it is made in more formal policy-making processes.”