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Strategic ignorance and crises of trust: Un-anticipating futures and governing food supply chains in the shadow of Horsegate

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Donaldson, Dr Jane Midgley



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This paper explores how transnational food supply chains are governed and secured through examining the 2013 horsemeat scandal, during which processed beef products were adulterated with horseflesh. Drawing on theories of governmentality and ignorance studies, it argues that the apparent ignorance among food businesses about their supply chains which this event exposed arises in response to a regulatory apparatus which renders businesses responsible for taking precautions only against foreseeable threats to food safety and authenticity. Limiting their knowledge of their supply chains therefore enables food businesses to control their ability to anticipate (and their liability for) crises. This paper highlights the role of strategic ignorance in rendering future events unforeseeable and ungovernable, and in mediating the politics of accountability and responsibility within anticipatory governmental apparatuses.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brice J, Donaldson A, Midgley J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Economy and Society

Year: 2020

Volume: 49

Issue: 4

Pages: 619-641

Online publication date: 20/11/2020

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 18/12/2020

ISSN (print): 0308-5147

ISSN (electronic): 1469-5766

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/03085147.2020.1781387


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