Thesis_Hungerford_Linda J_Redacted.pdf (28.85 MB)

The sugar industry as a commodity system: An analysis of agricultural restructuring within the Australian sugar industry

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posted on 2022-11-29, 23:36 authored by Linda J Hungerford

During the course of the Twentieth Century the Australian sugar industry became increasingly regulated to such an extent that by the 1980s it was the most highly regulated industry in Australia. Since the 1980s pressures, both internal and external to the industry, have resulted in significant deregulation and subsequent restructuring.

Internal pressures have resulted from the Australian government's adoption of economic rationalist polices in order to meet what it perceived to be the challenges of globalisation, as well as more localized factors such as prolonged periods of drought. Externally, declining terms of trade and increasing levels of competition are problematic.

This thesis seeks to determine whether or not the Australian sugar industry's restructuring exercises are sufficient to meet the challenges presented by an increasingly globalised economy and fiercer international competition. In so doing it considers the role of the state and transnational capital. It also reflects upon the sustainability of the industry.

In order to understand what is happening within the Australian sugar industry, the thesis engages the explanatory power of agricultural restructuring and globalization theory. Theoretically the thesis is informed but not determined by the globalization perspective developed by Le Heron (1993). It also incorporates insights derived from McMichael, Wiseman, and Lawrence. The thesis employs methodology derived from the combination of two different but complementary procedures, namely, commodity systems analysis as proposed and refined by Friedland (1984, 2001), and the commodity chain approach as described by Hopkins and Wallerstein (1986).

The thesis concludes that while the Australian industry appears to be deregulating and restructuring according to global logic, if fully enacted according to the trajectory implied by the deregulatory process, some portions of the Australian industry may be rendered unsustainable.


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Central Queensland University

Place of Publication

Rockhampton, Queensland

Open Access

  • Yes

Era Eligible

  • No


Professor Geoff Lawrence

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis

Thesis Format

  • By publication