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Virus-crisis-institutional change: The foot and mouth actor network and the governance of rural affairs in the UK

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Andrew Donaldson, Professor Philip Lowe, Professor Neil Ward


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This paper adopts an actor-network theory approach in order to follow the associations of actors involved in the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic in the UK. We follow the chains of translation through three key stages: from virus to disease; from disease to crises in agriculture, the rural economy and rural policy; and from those crises to the institutional change that occurred with the demise of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the arrival of the new Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs. What emerges from this approach is that the UK Government's initial attempts to combat FMD caused a rural economy crisis not through mismanagement but through a more fundamental mis-problematization of the situation. By viewing rural areas through an agricultural lens, Government actors failed to appreciate the presence of other actors in the countryside, a failure that resulted in massive social and economic impacts outside of the agricultural sector.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Donaldson A, Lowe P, Ward N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociologia Ruralis

Year: 2002

Volume: 42

Issue: 3

Pages: 201-214

Print publication date: 01/07/2002

ISSN (print): 0038-0199

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9523

Publisher: Wiley

URL: .http:/

DOI: 10.1111/1467-9523.00211


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