The Sustainable Development of a Market Concept
Abstract: Market concept such as sustainability, CSR and sustainable food have influenced the way in which actors on the marketplace behave. Furthermore, previous research have shown that while some market concepts and logics succeed in becoming established among market actors other do not. This in turn has significant consequences on how the market is structured and the behavior of different actors within it. This thesis are therefore examining how the concept of sustainable food have gained legitimacy in the Swedish context in order to contribute to existing literature on how market concepts become legitimized. Newspaper articles from the three most credible newspapers were examined from the period 1995-2018 resulting in 1902 articles whereby 309 of them where coded. Through discourse analysis together with existing theories of institutional- and strategic legitimation, our findings suggest that the concept gains legitimacy by constantly adapting to bigger discourses. Furthermore, our findings indicate that goal congruence, together with a more evenly distributed sense of responsibility, between various actors, such as consumers, organizations and institutions has contributed to the legitimation of the concept. Different actors’ approaches to achieve a sustainable food system together with the complexity of the issues embedded within the concept kept sustainable food relevant. Additionally, issues and critique on established methods trickled across the industry, and to nearby industries, via intertextuality. Corporations using sustainability strategically together with isomorphism further propelled the legitimation process. The findings thus indicate that the diffusion rate of a sustainability concept happens faster than previous research have shown.
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