Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology

First Advisor

Joan Brehm


The purpose of this research is to illuminate how individuals form perceptions of cooperatives, specifically of Green Top Grocery, a cooperative located in Bloomington Illinois, using the Bourdieu-sian habitus and notions of capital as a frame. Green Top Grocery suffers from fiscal instability since they opened in 2017. They also struggle to gain support of lower income individuals, a key demographic they sought to help since their inception based on their stated values. By conducting qualitative interviews of three sample groups: Green Top Grocery board members and leadership, local food access experts, and West Bloomington residents, and non-participant observations, this research can answer the following research questions: 1) What are the perceptions of food cooperatives in general, and Green Top specifically? 2) How are respondents’ social location reflected in their motivations for consumption? and 3) How might Green Top Grocery’s practices influence the formation of these perceptions? The results showed that differing social and cultural capital and differing habitus of each group caused a differentiation in the perceptions of Green Top Grocery, including individuals’ consumption motivations, definitions of food access, and the future of the cooperative. The results showed that Green Top Grocery faced organizational and fiscal constraints during the planning process and the subsequent years after that could have perpetuated a negative reputation amongst community members, especially regarding a lack of diversity in participation for both race and class within the cooperative. Different perspectives on what food access meant created differing understandings on how to address food access issues. For cooperatives, and especially Green Top Grocery, this meant creating more inclusive participation, with an emphasis on more equitable collaboration with lower-income residents and residents of color and collaborative understanding of food access, to prevent further perpetuation of alternative food institutions, such as cooperatives, as white spaces.


Imported from Forsythe_ilstu_0092N_11766.pdf


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