The European Journal of Development Research vol:27 issue:5 pages:650-671
Recent spikes in international food prices and the occurrence of food riots in the period 2007–2008 have led many researchers to investigate more closely the links between rising food prices and conflict or political instability. However, this emerging literature suffers from a number of shortcomings. The objective of this article is to analyze these shortcomings further, highlight their theoretical and empirical implications, and offer ways of addressing them. I focus on three main issues. First, I look at the recurring lack of precision in the use of concepts such as political instability and conflict, and in particular the food riot concept itself. Second, I examine the often uncritical data gathering based on framing by media sources without a closer analysis of the events that took place on the ground. And third, I focus on the issue of presupposed and understudied economic as well as political causal mechanisms.