An examination of technology as a food security solution
: Boundary work in the co-production of science and politics

  • Kerry Wallace

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Achieving food security for all is a well acknowledged challenge for the 21st century. This interdisciplinary thesis looks at the role of technologies in addressing these concerns. It draws on aspects of science and politics to ask where these fields come together, where they divide and what impact this has on food security.

The concept of food security encompasses the interaction of multiple dimensions including technical, political, economic, social and environmental factors. At present the academic fields of science and politics largely focus on their own terrain and there is very little that engages with the connections between the two. However, the very nature of the food security problem requires us to focus on how these fields interact. This research addresses this gap in existing knowledge by exploring how interaction between science and politics occurs in practice. A conceptual toolkit comprising of coproduction and boundary work was developed to allow for commonalities and differences to be registered. This research explored forms of co-production between science, technology and politics in the past, and how this looks in the present.

Interviews were conducted with forty-seven participants from seven different groups of actors, and were analysed using content analysis. Three main situations in which co-production and boundary work was emphasised were identified: interaction in a broader food security setting, the research and development of technology, and technology adoption. This thesis explores these areas as core chapters to present a better understanding of how science and politics comes together, and how it divides in practice. It identifies patterns between them, but argues that there is a much greater emphasis on how boundaries are created in practice, as opposed to how they are crossed.

Date of AwardJul 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorKatrina Campbell (Supervisor) & Michael Bourne (Supervisor)


  • food security
  • technology
  • boundary work
  • co-production

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