Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Jon Shefner

Committee Members

Paul Gellert, Damayanti Banerjee


Over the last decade, concerns over healthy eating, the systemic causes of hunger, and alternative ideas over food production and consumption have become more prevalent issues in mainstream American society. This has resulted in increasing literature on whether alternative food movements and local food advocates are an emerging social movement. In using Knoxville, Tennessee as a case study, this thesis explores how historical changes in food-based welfare created conditions for increased local activism around issues of hunger and food insecurity. Second, this thesis uses interviews from key local food advocates to determine how their activism is shaped by personal identity, the building of coalitions, and the search for resources. Lastly, using New Social Movements literature, this thesis presents an understanding of how issues of identity, coalition building, and the search for resources influence local food activism. This thesis builds on previous research into how the New Social Movements literature informs the actions, role, and goals of many emerging new movements.

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