Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)




Dr Nicole Cook


The intersection of environmental, economic, and social pressures suggest that globalised industrial food systems are placing increasing stress on socio-ecological systems. Resilience-thinking envisages such moments as opportunities for the formation of new relationships and practices, ideally leading to stability and socio-ecological balance. However, within the literature on resilience, the role of alternative food networks in fostering resilience is less well developed. Despite this, such organisations operate in many cities and suburbs forging alternatives to industrialised and globalised food consumption and networks. Drawing on interviews with 15 organisations in the Illawarra, this thesis examines the nature and extent of localised food networks and the organisations that comprise these networks in facilitating greater resilience in food systems. It shows that organisations contribute to the sharing of knowledge, and that this is enhanced through immersive hands-on experience. Changes are seen to be incremental, rather than systemic, with a focus on ‘actually existing resilience’ that supports a volunteer support base. The nature of these organisations (informal, networked) are seen to generate a context in which meaningful transformation can occur; that although small scale, is capable of meaningful change. The thesis argues that resilience thinking needs to take greater account of such organisations and their role in incremental change in food systems.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.