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date: 18 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Food chains interact with the vast, complex, and tangled webs of material flows —nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, water, energy—circling the globe. Cities and households are where those material flows interact with the greatest intensity. At every point within these webs and chains, technologies enable them to function: from bullock-drawn ploughs, to mobile phones, to container ships, to wastewater treatment plants. Drawing on the theory of plural rationality, we show how the production and consumption of food and water in households and societies can be understood as occurring according to four institutionally induced styles: four basic ways of understanding the world and acting within it; four ways of living with one another and with nature. That there are four is due to the theory of plural rationality at the core of this chapter.

Keywords: cultural theory, global material cycles, governance, household consumption patterns, irrigation, plural rationality, urban metabolism

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