This paper examines the shift by the marine conservation movement from state-centered to market-based strategies and its implications for the democratization of food and agriculture. Using two theoretical frameworks form social movement theory – the opportunities approach and resource mobilization theory – three factors are identified as driving the shift by marine conservation organizations to market-based strategies. First, limited success using state-centered strategies created the impetus for marine conservation organizations to seek out alternative strategies. Second, changes in food and agriculture created opportunities for market based strategies. Specifically, the emergence of retailers as leader actors, the development of an economy of qualities in food, and the increasing use of governance each created opportunities for market-based approaches. Lastly, foundations used their funding to channel marine conservation organizations toward market-based approaches. The outcome is a market-based model of environmental change in which movement organizations work with and/or pressure industry to make changes. In concluding, the potential implications of the shift toward market-based strategies for democratic politics are examined. Whereas market-based strategies open new opportunities for movements, the use of such strategies may also constrain democratization in that they: (1) promote consumption, (2) depend on the market, and (3) use private governance. Each of these potential constraints is briefly examined.

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