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Introducing a new conceptual framework of food security integrating the latest understanding of the phenomenon

Gibson, Mark (2011) Introducing a new conceptual framework of food security integrating the latest understanding of the phenomenon. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

With little change in malnourished figures over the last 40 years there lacks consensus over conceptualising and dealing with the issues of food security. At the heart of the problem are the numerous issues that seemingly interact in complex ways that are difficult to elucidate. In an attempt to understand and clarify such issues conceptual modelling is increasingly used. However, despite some good progress there still remains serious concerns over the suitability of many present day models. Two of the major concerns regarding these models include their lack of overarching scope and the often seemingly ad-hoc or non-rigorous nature of the frameworks themselves; often replete with ill-defined and/or subjective conceptualisations. With this in mind the aim of this research was to fill this knowledge gap with a new improved framework that addresses these issues. In the course of this research it was highlighted that one of the barriers to a full understanding of the subject was the way in which it was fragmented and ultimately reflected in separate models. As a result this research’s approach concentrates on combining the hitherto separately dealt with multidisciplinary issues into one holistic model. In doing so this work provides a new model of food security that sets itself apart from its contemporaries as being thoroughly comprehensive and overarching and one which also helps place the many hitherto disparate elements in better context. Moreover this new framework also stands apart in its rigorous methodological application which is both predominantly objective, intuitive and transparent. In achieving this, this study comprised a literature review of current food security issues as well as social science modelling. This provided the tools used to evaluate 25 existing food security models of which 6 were looked at in detail with case study analysis. This resulted in one framework that was considered representative of the existing models. Separately two other models were created using two pilot studies; 7 focus groups; and an online global forum discussion. Collectively all three models were taken and evaluated using 6 specialist interviews and the resultant findings were incorporated into a single new framework. In conclusion a review of the literature revealed a widespread lack of comprehension of the overarching perspective of food security issues in general. In addition however while there was also found to exist overwhelming support for the continued use of conceptual models in principle, there was also much agreement for the need to formalise the process. As a result this research produced an updated framework of food security that was seen by the specialists as an improvement on existing models. This new model was seen as easier to interpret whilst also displaying clear boundaries and relationships. Importantly too the new model also covered the whole spectrum of food security issues and by introducing a 3-part framework each with increasing levels of complexity, the model also has the capacity to appeal to novices and experts alike thus facilitating a more complete understanding of the phenomenon at all levels.

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