advocacy in brewing: exploring environmental & social activism by brewers in the United States

Authors: Colleen Myles*, Texas State University, Delorean Wiley, Texas State University, Walter Furness, Texas State University, Katherine Sturdivant, Texas State University
Topics: Wine, Beer, and Spirits, Food Systems, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: fermentation, advocacy, (re)development, community, environment, social justice, sustainability
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Craft brewing has changed the face of communities across the United States as fermentation industries have increasingly been at the center of civic (re)development activities. Urban renewal and gentrification have marched hand-in-hand as inner city and urban fringe locales have encouraged the establishment of craft fermenters as a component of their economic and community development strategies. Fermented landscapes are now ubiquitous and produce and maintain a variety of public goods, whether perceived as beneficial or not. Further, some breweries offer highly visible examples of advocacy efforts, including the pursuit and promotion of environmental sustainability initiatives or profit-sharing to benefit local causes. However, how pervasive (or, alternatively, extraordinary) are these kinds of activities? There is currently very little, if anything, in the literature about breweries as political actors that advocate for particular issues or outcomes. Thus, we inquired: What kinds of environmental advocacy topics and techniques are breweries in the United States undertaking? We gathered a random sample of 300 breweries in the United States and examined their websites, coding them for the advocacy themes, topics, and techniques represented therein. Our analysis revealed three dozen distinct techniques and a dozen themes of action along four broad types or categories of advocacy, revealing how breweries engage in environmental, social justice, or community initiatives in a variety of ways. By illuminating how breweries co-constitute the economic and cultural landscapes they inhabit, this study traces the connections between breweries and their respective communities, helping to further clarify the impacts of fermentation-focused community change.

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