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About the Lifestyles in transition initiative

Our lifestyles and consumption patterns partly determine the impacts of our society on the environment of our planet, and science explores their possible long-term evolution in order to reduce the environmental impacts of our society (e.g. identification of a diet that allows us to stay within the global environmental limits). Changing lifestyles requires transforming the architecture of the determinants of choices, and thus the socio-political environment in which individuals evolve.  Indeed, our lifestyles are not fixed: they are and have always been evolving, more or less rapidly. While the question of the individual's responsibility in the ecological transition is rising in the public debate and raises questions, what place could lifestyle changes take in this transition? The initiative explores these issues and intervenes in debates through several projects and sectors, using areas of social science knowledge that are particularly useful for thinking about social and political transition.

Scope of the internship

The agri-food sector faces many environmental, social and economic challenges. Numerous studies show that solving these problems requires a radical transformation, both of the agricultural system and of food practices, including a reduction in the consumption of animal products. To those who criticize the negative impacts of the existing productivist model and wish for its transition towards greater sustainability, the proponents of the status quo argue that such a transition could jeopardize the promise of low-cost food and in particular threaten access to food for the most disadvantaged populations. Another argument is that this transition towards greater sustainability (e.g. organic food) is only a concern or aspiration of urban and high-income households. Or in other words, the society as a whole wouldn’t really have the willingness to pay more in order to have a more sustainable agricultural system.

The objective of this internship is to refine our understanding of the discourse of asserting that the food transition is "anti-poor": who are the actors using this discourse? How is it received by the public and political sphere? What counter-arguments can be deployed? 

In this context, we are looking for an intern to conduct research on the following questions:

1)    What are the economical facts under this issue ?
a.    review of studies and datasets on historical evolution of households budgets and food prices;
b.    analysis of the existing economic segmentation of food markets;
c.    review of studies on the cost of the basket in a more sustainable agri-food model.

2)    What are the sociological facts under this debate?
a.    review of studies studies on food standards, particularly with respect to sustainable food, especially among low-income population
b.    review of surveys on aspirations of low-income populations in the field of food

3)    What is the place of this narrative in the debate on the food transition?  
a.    mapping of the actors using the narrative that the transition is not possible because of social issues;
b.    evaluation of its reception in the public and political sphere (through text analysis and/or interviews.

4)    Building narratives of a just food transition
a.    mapping of the existing counter arguments, and their main promoters ;
b.    proposal of additional counter-arguments, related to the results of parts 1 and 2
c.    identification of existing/debated policy tools to support a just food transition in France and Europe s (ex. “chèque alimentaire” proposed by the Citizen Assembly on Climate in France and taken up by French government)?

The intern will draft a report summarizing its main findings to support IDDRI's intervention in these debates. Presentations of interim results will be made with internship supervisors and other stakeholders. Depending on the progress of the work, the results of the internship may be published in the form of a blog post or a policy brief from the Iddri collection.

Required qualifications

  • Undergraduate qualification in a relevant field (economics, political science, sociology);
  • Excellent oral and writing skills;
  • Good level of English – Fluent in French
  • Able to make research independently and use own initiative;
  • Strong analytical skills.
  • Ability to synthesize and develop proposals
  • Knowledge about the agri-food sector would be appreciated and or other issues of just transition in the sustainable development field and understanding of sustainable development related issues;

Supervision and specificities

The internship will be supervised by Laura Brimont and Mathieu Saujot (Coordinators of the Lifestyles in transition Initiative).
The selected candidate will be required to work on both analytical/research activities and organisational activities.

The internship will provide the opportunity to:

  • Participate in strategic discussions
  • Develop/enrich a knowledge of the domain of food policies and issues, at the crossroads of ecology and social issues in France, EU and international levels
  • Develop network with IDDRI’s partners
  • Experience the working environment of a think tank with a dynamic team of researchers

Location and contract

The successful candidate will be offered a 6-months internship from March-April to August- September 2021. Given the sanitary crises due to COVID-19, the internship will be mostly home based with possible access to IDDRI offices depending on the evolution of the pandemic.
IDDRI offers:

  • A monthly stipend of €1,100 net
  • Subsidised restaurant tickets (60%)
  • Subsidised public transport (50%)

The Intern must be enrolled in a university program and be able to provide an internship agreement from his/her university.

How to apply

Please send a CV and a cover letter to laura.brimont@iddri.org and Mathieu.saujot@iddri.org
Application deadline: February 25th, 2021

IDDRI is an equal opportunity employer and we encourage applications from candidates from all backgrounds.