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"If you're on good terms with those people, you'll always have a place to eat": a Bourdieusian approach to food justice in a pay-what-you-can café


Alternative food initiatives (AFIs) are widespread, leading to questions from food justice scholars about whether these initiatives are doing justice. One common question is the degree to which initiatives are inclusive of race and class differences. This thesis undertook a four-month qualitative study of a unique, but less commonly studied initiative, a pay-what-you-can (PWC) cafe in a Mountain West state. The organizational structure lacks financial barriers to entry, allowing for people from all economic statuses to participate. Through a Bourdieusian analytical framework, and a multifaceted notion of justice, the thesis finds that the organizational rhetoric that values community, providing 'good food' to those without money, and recognizing the abilities of different individuals, explains which groups participate, how they are recognized, and the distribution of resources within the cafe. This matters because it shows how values and broader organizational rules affect how AFIs are able to do justice. These findings contribute to the literature on AFIs by focusing on newly emerging PWCs and expands debates about how such initiatives do food justice.


Rights Access


alternative food
food insecurity


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