Globalization and state: Factors contributing to the contemporary food security crisis

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mangala Subramaniam

Committee Chair

Mangala Subramaniam

Committee Member 1

Robert Perrucci

Committee Member 2

Christie Sennott

Committee Member 3

Harry Targ


Despite a global effort to confront the crisis, it is estimated that approximately 805 million people – that is roughly one out of every nine people – suffer from chronic food insecurity. Here, food security is conceptualized along three dimensions: 1) the availability of food supply, 2) the accessibility of food, and 3) its nutritional adequacy. This dissertation examines the macroeconomic and political determinants of food security along each of these dimensions.

The research is divided into two parts. First, I draw on secondary sources to create a panel data set at the national level for a generalized method of moments (GMM) analysis during the time period of 1990-2010. The predictor variables each fall within one of the three predominant perspectives within the sociology of development literature: modernization, dependency/world-system, and ecological. The findings reveal that while certain tenets of each theory provide some degree of explanatory power, no one perspective wholly captures the complexities of the food security crisis. Second, I provide a case study of India using primary data from the India Planning Commission’s Five Year Plans and Midterm Appraisals. The qualitative analysis examines the state’s role in agricultural development and its impact on food security, both pre- and post-structural adjustment. The findings reveal that the state implemented diverse and at times conflicting policies as it was simultaneously concerned with both international and domestic relations.

This study is significant for numerous reasons. First, this research contributes to the scholarship on global food security at a theoretical level. The simultaneous consideration and operationalization of multiple theories allows for the identification of each theory’s strengths and the potential for formulating a more comprehensive model. Second, by incorporating state agency into various theoretical approaches, this research contributes to building a more thorough understanding of the causes of food insecurity. Third, this study examines food insecurity using multiple dimensions – availability, accessibility, and adequacy. This broader use of multiple dimensions allows the research to capture the complexities of understanding food insecurity and initiatives taken to address it.

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