An Actor-Network Theory Examination Of Cheese And Whey Production In Ontario

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Lougheed, Scott C.
ANT , Food Studies , Sociology , Actor-Network Theory
In this thesis, I explore the phenomena of cheese production in Ontario, Canada. I initiated this project after learning that some cheese producers in Ontario that were struggling to stay in business, in part because of whey management issues, especially as they relate to the Ontario Nutrient Management Act O. Reg 267/03 (OMAFRA 2002). In this thesis, I utilize the Actor-Network Theory (Latour 2005) approach to examine how certain elements of cheese production in Ontario are organized, with an emphasis on whey management and utilization. Of interest are tensions that threaten to destabilize these relations, such as controversies over how whey should be handled, how identities such as “artisan” or “industrial” cheese producers are constructed and maintained, and how smaller producers sustain themselves in a market in which they compete with large- scale industrial cheese production were examined. Interviews took place with seven participants involved in government, agriculture, and cheese production. Participant/observation data were collected in six field sites (cheese factories, farms). I found that humans and nonhumans perform significant work in holding cheese production and whey management together, even in situations commonly understood as under human mastery or control. In particular, I found that the manner by which relations between entities both human and nonhuman are governed, through law or through informal expectations (e.g., "protocol"; Galloway and Thacker 2007), is responsive to, and emergent from, these relations.
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