Organising through communication
The undemocratic, profit-driven nature of modern-day food systems has triggered the emergence of transnational social movements concerned not only about what we eat but about the specific function of rural space, the type of development that should take place in it and who should benefit from this. One notable social movement is La Vía Campesina. Representing 200 million small-scale producers, fishers and landless workers in over 70 countries, it is fundamentally focused on promoting the concept of food sovereignty and principles of agroecology. This chapter aims to provide some insight into how local campaigns are translated into a flexible and inclusive global agenda by La Vía Campesina, and how a set of diverse people, practices and messages become a democratic organisation through communication. The intersection of social movement and organisational theory – both of which seek to understand the nature of collective action – is outlined, before the communicative constitution of organisation (CCO) approach is used to analyse the processes that link farmer-activists within and across national boundaries, shape operations and situate local actors in wider contexts. It is argued that this theory can help us understand voice as a site of domination and resistance, the differential capacities and forms of engagement and participation in specific grassroots organisations and the complexity of multidirectional processes of scaling required for global action.