Institutionalising the organic labelling scheme in China: a legitimacy perspective

Leonie Dendler, Paul Dewick

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Transitioning towards organic consumption and production has been widely promoted as a more sustainable alternative for urban and rural food systems. Our paper shows how a focus on legitimacy can shed light on current barriers to deeper institutionalisation of the organic labelling scheme in China. Based upon documentary analysis, personal observations and over 70 qualitative interviews we identify consequential concerns amongst China’s small scale farmers, limited support by the Chinese central government, and procedural problems as the main barriers. We discuss strategies to overcome these barriers, for example tighter certification procedures or more participatory arrangements. Our work contributes to the legitimacy, product labelling and food safety literatures as well as bourgeoning discussions on how to facilitate more sustainable consumption and production in China.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date28 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2016


  • Organic Food; China; Product Labelling; Legitimacy; New Institutional Theory

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Innovation Research
  • Sustainable Consumption Institute


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