75th Anniversary: 9) De Toga: overleefde hiërarchie of dalend cultuurgoed

Professor Kooij met toga, bef en baret

Parallel aan de democratisering van de universiteit in de jaren zestig en zeventig, met de voor die tijd kenmerkende opkomst van vakgroepsbestuur, in plaats van de almachtige hoogleraar, en inspraak door studenten, kwam ook universiteitssymboliek onder vuur te liggen. Een van die symbolen was de toga, het kenmerkende gewaad dat de hoogleraar draagt bij plechtigheden. De sociologen Gerrit Kooij en Rien Munters openden de discussie over het aan de wilgen hangen van de toga.

De toga is bij de meeste universiteiten in Nederland een zwart gewaad, behalve in Maastricht, daar is die paars, gedragen door professoren bij officiële gelegenheden zoals promoties en oraties. De zwarte versies hebben soms een rode bies over de gehele lengte, wat het postuur van de drager accentueert, of decoratieve strepen over de mauwen. Kraag en revers zijn doorgaans van fluweel. Een witte bef maakt de uitrusting compleet. In deze zwart-witte combinatie zou het zwart staan voor de afwijzing van ijdelheid, terwijl het wit neutraliteit, of objectiviteit symboliseert. Een Wagenings exemplaar kost 1.100 euro, maar er zijn ook leen-toga’s beschikbaar voor zuinige professoren of gasten van buiten (Sikkema 2017).

Hans Dirken van de TU in Delft hield in 2001 zijn afscheidsrede over ‘academische kleding’ (Dirken 2001). Volgens hem ontstond de toga-klederdracht in Europa in de veertiende eeuw. Het model was afgekeken van de onderscheidende kleding die bisschoppen droegen, en status en macht uitstraalden. De drager van de toga stond symbool voor de wetenschap: met de verlichting een opkomende autoriteit. Mooie bijkomstigheid was dat de toga de drager warm hield in de universiteitsgebouwen die in oude tijden klam en koud konden zijn. Onder de toga horen zwarte of grijze schoenen, niet bruin, en zeker geen sneakers. Bij de toga hoort ook een delicaat hoofddeksel: de baret. Deze moet op het hoofd zitten bij het lopen, staan en spreken, maar weer af als de professor gaat zitten, behalve in het geval van vrouwelijke hoogleraren. Die mogen de baret ophouden (Sikkema 2017).

Met de democratiseringsgolf in de jaren zestig en zeventig kwam de toga onder schot te liggen. In Duitsland hadden studenten actie gevoerd onder de leuze ‘Under den Talaren Muff von 1000 jahren’ – Onder de toga’s duizend jaren muffigheid (Strikkers 2019).  Ook in Wageningen werd de toga onder vuur genomen, en wel vanuit het corps van hoogleraren en wetenschappelijk personeel. De socioloog Kooij, zelf professor, gesteund door zijn collega Rien Munters, werkzaam bij dezelfde sociologie vakgroep, meenden dat Wageningen afstand moest nemen van het gewaad, dat toch vooral uitdrukking gaf aan de autoritaire verhoudingen op de universiteit. Volgens Kooij verwees de toga naar een hiërarchie in de academie, tussen hoogleraren en ander wetenschappelijk personeel, die tot het verleden hoorde. Met de democratisering van de universiteit was binnen de vakgroep de feitelijke macht al verschoven van de professor naar een vakgroepsbestuur. De toga, als symbool van de oude orde, stond haaks op de nieuwe verhoudingen. Kooij meende verder dat de toga ook de groepscohesie in de weg stond.

Munters zijn betoog in de Belhamel van 28 oktober 1971

Munters ondersteunde Kooij’s pleidooi met een betoog voor nieuwe rituelen en vroeg zich hardop af of het niet “nuttig kan zijn om te overwegen bepaalde ceremonieën, welke terug te voeren zijn op zichzelf overleefde hebbende hiërarchie, te elimineren” en “dat het tijd wordt om ons af te vragen of het dragen van toga’s door hoogleraren, het houden van inaugurele redes in onderscheid van openbare lessen, het promoveren in rok, het aanspreken van de hoogleraar als professor enz. – of die gebruiken en tradities het saamhorigheidsgevoel niet in de weg zijn gaan staan, en of niet naar nieuwe ceremoniële vormen moet worden gezocht, die de saamhorigheid binnen een gedemokratiseerd verband als de LH (LH of Landbouwhogeschool is de oude naam van Wageningen Universiteit, red.) zouden kunnen versterken” (Munters 1971). In 1974, deed redacteur De Hoog van de Belhamel, de voorloper van de huidige Resource, nog een duit in het zakje met een satire op de academische kledingvoorschriften en het “Middeleeuws wandelkostuum” (De Hoog 1974).

De toga is er gebleven, het vakgroepsbestuur weer verdwenen. Maar, de toga lijkt wel wat sociologen een ‘dalend cultuurgoed’ plegen te noemen. De toga is ook in Nederland niet meer het onderscheidende gewaad van uitsluitend professoren. Tegenwoordig mogen op een enkele universiteit in Nederland ook anderen dan de hoogleraar de toga dragen(1).

1). In Groningen mag ook de adjunct-professor de toga dragen . De adjunct is een soort associatie professor met toga-rechten.

Dirken, J. M. (2001). Academische kleding: Een ontwerp-functionele en historische bespiegeling. Delft, TU Delft.

Hoog, C. d. (1974). “Tussen Sherry en Toga.” Belhamel (14 februari 1974): p.1

Munters, Q. J. (1971). “Kollektief Ritueel aan de Landbouwhogeschool.” Belhamel 28-10-1971: p.3

Sikkema, A. (2017). “Hoe heurt het?” Resource, 15 juni 2017.

Strikkers, H. (2019). “UvA-geheimen | Waarom dragen hoogleraren eigenlijk nog toga’s?” Folia, 2 september 2019.

Symposium over de onderwijs-zorgboerderij

Op woensdag 25 november is het wetenschapswinkelproject Leerarrangementen in het Groen – over de onderwijs-zorgboerderij – afgesloten met een (grotendeels online) symposium. Zelf heb ik de resultaten van het wetenschapswinkelproject gepresenteerd. Andere sprekers waren onder andere Natalie Jonkers (ministerie VWS) en Rene Peeters (ambassadeur programma ‘Met andere ogen’). Het publiek kon online volgen hoe de live presentaties werden afgewisseld met filmpjes opgenomen op de boerderij. De belangstelling was groot: ruim 115 deelnemers bleven tot het einde toe ingelogd. Dit laat zien hoe sterk dit onderwerp leeft.

In het wetenschapswinkelproject hebben onderzoekers en studenten van binnen en buiten Wageningen UR de onderwijs-zorgboerderijsector in kaart gebracht, onderzocht waarom onderwijs op de boerderij kan werken, en aanbevelingen gedaan voor het professionaliseren van de sector. Alle bevindingen zijn samengebracht in een uitgebreide eindrapportage en een kortere brochure. Daarnaast is een brochure verschenen met daarin de ervaringen van kinderen. Alle producten, en korte conclusies, zijn te vinden op onze projectpagina.

Het symposium is terug te kijken: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/Onderwijs-op-de-Zorgboerderij

75th Anniversary: 8) Kyoto meets Wageningen, Political Economy meets Rural Sociology

Countryside excursion at the 2016 Graduate Workshop

 Introduction

The collaboration between the group of rural sociology at Wageningen University and the group of agri-food political economy at Kyoto University officially started in July 2014, when we signed a letter of intent to foster international cooperation in education and research. This was first materialised when Kyoto University invited Dirk Roep in February 2015, and Guido Ruivenkamp and Joost Jongerden in March 2015 (http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/report/376). Their visit in Kyoto kickstarted a series of intensive lectures given by invited RSO members as well as a series of joint workshops between the two groups either in Kyoto or in Wageningen, as explained below.

Our collaboration, however, informally started when I did my visiting research in Wageningen between 2002 and 2004. Although it was a different group (Agriculture and Technology Development Group), including Kees Jansen among others, who hosted me, there were Guido Ruivenkamp and Joost Jongerden in the group. Since then, we have been working together on various topics, ranging from the political economy and sociology of agricultural biotechnology development to the comparative study on mainstream and alternative agri-food systems between the Netherlands and Japan. We organised an international conference at Kyoto University in November 2007, based on which we edited and published a book: Reconstructing Biotechnologies: Critical Social Sciences in 2008. An online journal, International Journal of Technology and Development Studies (2010-2012), a successor of Tailoring Biotechnologies (2005-2008), was also edited together. The archive of these two journals is still available (https://ijtds.webnode.com/).

Whereas our initial and informal collaboration was largely on an individual basis, our ongoing collaboration has been institutionalised (now we have a university-level MoU and a school-level student mobility agreement), though not to a full extent as explained later, in a way that can be characterised as bringing different disciplinary perspectives as well as diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds together.

Cross-disciplinary Experiences

Entry to the Kyoto Campus

At the Graduate School of Economics in Kyoto University, I have been serving first as the vice director (or I would say, architect and designer), and then as the director of the International Graduate Programme for East Asia Sustainable Economic Development Studies since its launch in 2009. The programme, as explicitly suggested by its name, places a strong emphasis on the idea and policy of sustainable development as well as the region of East (northeast and southeast) Asia.

Although the concept of “sustainable” has become tired cliché and now challenged to be replaced with other concepts such as “regenerative” (Duncan et al. 2020), we dare to keep this concept with an aim to problematise it and encourage our students to seek out their own way of understanding and their own style of contributions to sustainable development. Sustainable development — briefly defined as a well-balanced development among different regions, different industry sectors, different socio-economic classes, different generations, etc. — is also about justice and equity, about diversity and mutual respect. Sustainable development in such a broader sense requires multiple perspectives and multidisciplinary approaches. It requires to be understood as “the product of many stories, worldviews, values, actions and perspectives which, to be fully appreciated, require a readiness to listen to others, respect differences, suspend established opinions and see others’ eyes while allowing other voices to resonate and be heard” (Blewitt 2015).

Materialising our idea of multidisciplinary education programme is arguably challenging, not only because it is within the school of “economics”, a discipline far from diversity, but also in general, especially if it would be designed for nurturing individual students and young scholars to have interdisciplinary skills and expertise. On the other hand, it should be possible to juxtapose different disciplinary approaches and perspectives (not in the sense of relativistic way of thinking) within a team consisting of individuals with distinct disciplinary orientations, and encourage and promote communication and collaboration among them. If students find themselves in such a multidisciplinary or cross-disciplinary environment and involved in a “dialogue of values” (Blewitt 2015), they will develop their multidisciplinary sense and perspectives that are necessary to understand and contribute to sustainable development.

Although it may be an exaggeration when it comes to the relationship between political economy and rural sociology that crucially constitute critical agri-food studies, difficulties were anticipated given a history of conflicting approaches between structure-oriented political economy of agri-food systems on the one hand, and actor-oriented peasant studies or place- and practice-based rural sociology. Throughout the collaboration during the past several years, however, it has proved to be fruitful and productive, though still challenging. This reminds me of several statements given by key scholars:

Jennifer Clapp (2016) from University of Waterloo, a key scholar representing the agri-food political economy, mentioned that: “Taking a step back to the bigger picture, to look at the wider forces that shape the world food economy… helps to build a richer understanding of these other important dimensions of food systems. While there is always a risk of missing out on the specificity of particular locations when taking a global perspective, gaining an understanding of the big picture helps to contextualize the local… Both locally specific studies and global overviews are needed to gain a comprehensive picture.”

Seemingly resonating her argument, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (2016), a key scholar representing the actor-oriented rural sociology and peasant studies, also commented that interconnections between the two approaches should be constructed since “alternative agri-food economies are, time and again, materially triggered and driven forward by the dynamics of the dominant agri-food systems”, and continued to say that: “If this interconnection is left unexplored, the theories on alternative agri-food economies will remain too subjectivist: as if the creation and further unfolding of new agri-food economies mainly depends on the willingness and perseverance of the actors involved”.

And very recently, Jessica Duncan et al. (2019, see also Levkoe et al. 2020) elaborate on the vital role of political economy, the gaps remaining to be addressed, and the possible ways to evolve political economy, saying that: “Political economy has been limited by its abilities to provide and explore potential solutions and alternatives to the dominant food system: unveiling power relation is not enough to transform socioecological systems and their related foodscapes. This limitation could be overcome if political economy practitioners actively engage with more diverse theories of change, not only tracing power relations but also contributing to greater methodological diversity and actualising more just and sustainable futures”.

Our collaboration and exchange activities actually have exemplified their suggestions and encouragement for constructing such “interconnections”.

A Series of Joint Graduate Workshops

A significance of this “going beyond the boundaries” is also true in geographical terms. In the same sense as “the global” is not an entity in its own right, but a construction of aggregated local events and discourses, neither of East Asia nor Europe as a region is ontologically given. They rather emerged through complex historical processes and spatial relations involving diverse social units and actors, which both from the “within” and the “outside”, are interacted and networked to construct and reconstruct something as “the regional”. East Asia, Europe or wherever as a region can be (critically) understood only relating it with other regions as well as delving into its diverse nationals and locals within. Although it is currently and completely disturbed under the Covid-19 pandemic, a series of KU-WU Joint Graduate Workshops have provided students and faculty members from the both sides with invaluable opportunities to see, feel, taste, touch and smell the culture and society of the other side so that they can deeply understand the other region while reflecting critically upon their own region. The workshops, needless to say, also include exiting opportunities for students to present their research, exchange ideas, and examine each other’s approaches.

The first joint workshop was held in Wageningen in March 2015 (http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/report/297), followed by the second one in Kyoto in May 2016, where Joost Jongerden, Jessica Duncan and Jan Douwe van der Ploeg attended (http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/report/629); the third one in Wageningen in June 2017, while taking part in the CSPS International Conference at De Wageningsche Berg; the fourth one in Kyoto in May 2018, where Joost Jongerden, Dirk Roep and Bettina Bock joined (http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/report/1611); the fifth one in Wageningen in May 2019 (http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/report/1909); and the sixth one in Kyoto, planned in September 2020 to be joined by Joost Jongerden and Esther Veen, but postponed due to the Covid-19 irregularity.

Session at the 2020 Workshop on Consumption and Sustainability

Apart from these joint workshops, Kyoto University organised the Kyoto Graduate Seminar on Economic Development and Sustainability Studies (http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/report/803) as a winter school in December 2016 and the Kyoto International Workshop on Consumption and Sustainability: Past, Present, and Future (http://www.econ.kyoto-u.ac.jp/kueac/courses/course-events-and-activities/kiw/) in February 2020, in both of which several graduate students and faculty members (Joost Jongerden, Oona Morrow, Anke de Vrieze, and Martin Ruivenkamp) from Wageningen were invited to play a key role. The latter was very successful thanks to a research intern from Wageningen (Iris van Hal). In these activities, some of graduate students and faculty members from the KU’s Graduate School of Agriculture (Division of Natural Resource Economics, but mainly its Rural Sociology and Agrarian Philosophy group led by Motoki Akitsu) also joined.

Individual-based exchange opportunities have also been offered to several graduate students from both sides, either as a research intern (mentioned elsewhere), as a visiting PhD student, or as an exchange master/bachelor student. Those who have had no chance yet to do their visiting research also have benefited from the collaboration through receiving useful thesis advices from the other side of faculty members. Jung Sungwoong and Anom Sigit Suryawan, among others of Kyoto PhD students, have presented and published their papers under the joint supervision between Jongerden and me.

A Series of Intensive Courses

In addition to the above-mentioned exchange activities, we also have arranged a series of intensive courses, though it has remained one-sided, i.e. Kyoto University has invited Wageningen scholars to give their intensive courses for Kyoto students to broaden their intellectual horizons. These intensive courses include the following:

  • Guido Ruivenkamp on Political Economy of Biotechnology Development and Commons (Spring 2015)
  • Jan Schakel on Agricultural Science and Society (Autumn 2015)
  • Jan Douwe van der Ploeg on Agrarian Change and Peasant Studies (Spring 2016)

During his stay in Kyoto to give his lectures in May 2016, Van der Ploeg contributed also to the 2nd Joint Workshop’s special session on Agroecology and Peasant Agriculture as a Promise for the Future, which was co-organised by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (1) who invited Miguel Altieri (University of California, Berkeley) by chance in the same period. The detail of his lecture, the 2nd Joint Workshop, and its special session can be found here: http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/report/629.

  • Joost Jongerden on Spatial Thinking in the Social Sciences (Autumn 2016)
  • Jessica Duncan on Global Food Security Governance (Spring 2017, http://agst.jgp.kyoto-u.ac.jp/topics/news/1101. For her lecture we had assistance from another research intern from Wageningen, Joëlla van de Griend)
  • Bettina Bock on Inclusive Rural Development (Spring 2018)

Some others were planned but could not take place: Han Wiskerke on Critical Food Studies (Spring 2019), Stephanie Hobbis on Comparative Development (Autumn 2019). Another one possibly planned in 2020 has been postponed to sometime in 2021 (and will probably be given online) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Looking Forward

On the basis of these experiences and achievements, we have been negotiating officially (i.e. involving the executive board members of both universities) during the past few years to set up a double degree master programme as a way to further institutionalise our educational collaboration. This attempt has turned out to be remarkably difficult and now is put on the shelf. We are not sure how our institutional collaboration will be going in the coming years, but what is certain is that we value the experiences and achievements of our exchange activities, and the current and future students of both sides are looking forward to being part of the collaborative learning and research for critical rural sociology and political economy of agriculture, food and rural development in Wageningen and in Kyoto.

Shuji Hisano, Kyoto University, Japan

Endnote

1) Research Institute for Humanity and Nature is an inter-university research institute corporation, also located in Kyoto. Miguel Altieri was invited by its Small-Scale Economies Project (2014-2017), led by Junko Habu, and the FEAST Project for Lifeworlds of Sustainable Food Consumption and Production: Agrifood System in Transition (2013-2020), led by Steven McGreevy. Especially, the FEAST Project (https://www.feastproject.org/en/) has been a part of Kyoto-Wageningen collaboration and its members actively participated in joint workshops and intensive courses. In turn, some of research interns from Wageningen, including Guilherme de Sa Pavarini Raj, partially worked for the FEAST Project in 2018. Furthermore, Hisano, Akitsu and McGreevy (2018) was published in Journal of Rural Studies, as part of a special issue edited by Paul Hebinck (2018), to which Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Joost Jongerden, Dirk Roep, Henk Oostindie, among others, also contributed.

References

  • Blewitt, J. (2015). Understanding Sustainable Development, 2nd edition. London and New York, Routledge.
  • Clapp, J. (2016). Food, 2nd edition. London, Polity Press.
  • Van der Ploeg, J. D (2016). “Theorizing Agri-Food Economies.” Agriculture, 6(3): pp.1-12.
  • Duncan, J., C. Z. Levkoe and A. Moragues-Faus (2019). “Envisioning New Horizons for the Political Economy of Sustainable Food Systems.” IDS Bulletin 50(2): pp.37-55.
  • Hebinck, P. (2018) “De-/re-agrarianisation: Global perspectives.” Journal of Rural Studies, 61: pp.227-265.
  • Hisano, S., M. Akitsu, and S. McGreevy (2018). “Revitalising rurality under the neoliberal transformation of agriculture: Experiences of re-agrarianisation in Japan”. Journal of Rural Studies 61: pp.290-301.
  • Levkoe, C. Z., A. Moragues-Faus, and J. Duncan (2020). “A Political Economy for Regenerative Food Systems.” In: Duncan, J., M. Carolan, and J. S. C. Wiskerke, eds. Routledge Handbook of Sustainable and Regenerative Food Systems. London and New York, Routledge.

75 Anniversary: 7) Rural Sociology and Resistance of the Third Kind

Women farmers in Rojava (2015)

Introduction

When it comes to the agrarian question, academia has been deeply divided. At the risk of caricature, there is one school of thought that considers the process of capitalist development a force that moves history progressively forward and another that takes the creative agency of people as the primary force of development. Historically, the Rural Sociology Group belongs to the latter school. The work on farming styles, meaningful diversity, new peasantries and foodscapes gave expression to the idea of this creative agency (Hofstee 1982, Ploeg 2008, Wiskerke 2009). In this blog, I will explore the importance of the agency concept through Van der Ploeg’s concept of resistance.

The Peasant Mode

In his work, Van der Ploeg has referred to one of his main sources of inspiration, Alexander Chayanov, in arguing that peasants are affected by the capitalist context in which they operate but are not governed by it.  He emphasized, like the innovative and radical thinker Jose Carlos Mariatequi, the peasant’s “effective capacity for development and transformation” (Ploeg 2013: 6). These are themes that are discussed in detail in his considerations of the new peasantries (Ploeg 2008) and his manifesto on peasants and the art of farming (Ploeg 2008). His work has been a major source of inspiration for those exploring the peasant mode of production in particular and struggles for autonomy in general.

Van der Ploeg has written one paper, however, which perhaps did not receive as much attention as the empirically rich and theoretically challenging books he has published over recent years (Ploeg 2008, 2011, 2013) and yet which has been important in the development of my own thinking. This is a short paper presented at the European Society for Rural Sociology in 2007. In this paper named Resistance of the Third Kind, Van der Ploeg (2007) argues that the creative agency of peasants should be considered a form of resistance against the dominant paradigm co-constructed by two modes of ordering, capital and state. This is a resistance, he argues, that resides in working practices and farmers’ fields; it is expressed in the way that cows are bred, how manure is made, products are delivered. In short, it is a resistance which intervenes in and reorganizes production, reproduction and markets.

These practices are forms of resistance that challenge a dominant mode of ordering while—and through—producing their own alternatives. This is a resistance that is not merely reaction, a mitigation of the effects of the dominant ordering characterized ‘rationalization process’ of intensification, scale enlargement, and specialization, but also creation, a development of ways of organizing production, reproduction, and markets that are distinct from those impelled by capital and the state (Van der Ploeg 2007). At just 5,000 words long, this paper pointed to an interesting bridge between agrarian and peasant studies and resistance studies.

Resistance studies

Resistance studies refers to of a broad field of studies that looks at struggles against exploitation and domination. The field as a whole is much indebted to the work of anthropologist James C. Scott (Scott 1998). Scott not only showed us how an ideology of scientific rationality and bureaucratic planning has created extensive and normative prescriptions for a societal order but also how the docile subjects that accompany this vision are actually stubborn actors who engage in an array of methods to avoid, evade and otherwise resist control and, moreover, go beyond a practical development of the art of “not being governed” to that of creating potentials and opportunities for different futures (Scott 2009). This is what Gibson-Graham (Gibson-Graham 2008) refers to as the generation of possibilities in the “diverse-economies” concept and Antonio Negri (cited in Van der Ploeg 2007) characterizes as the capacity to develop “potentialities that go beyond reigning forms of domination” (Van der Ploeg 2007).

Van der Ploeg analysis is part of a tradition that moves beyond the scholarly work that merely define resistance as negative in the sense of negation, being against, and acting against, beyond a limited understanding of agency as reactive. Instead he focusses our attention on the creative agency of peasants.  This resistance is not just a struggle against capital or the state, and thus subject to and defined by it, but is a struggling for, and thus defined by an imaginary on its own terms—of a good farm or a good life.  Rather than resist through overt or covert acts of opposition, this (third) form operates on its own terms, as a construction by implication, in what it values, a positive definition. Such an approach connects rather well to recent academic work looking at what is referred to as constructive, creative or productive resistance (Koefoed 2017, Lilja and Vinthagen 2018). This resistance is constructive, creative or productive, since it enacts the worlds it envisions, the worlds it wants to live in, and actively produces the conditions for a livable live (Butler 2015).

In my own work, I have considered this study of resistance of the third kind, this constructive, creative or productive resistance, an important vein of a scholarship that fundamentally challenges domination and exploitation in making other worlds visible and possible (Jongerden 2018, Öztürk, Jongerden et al. 2018, Jongerden 2019). This is a scholarship that does not parachute a particular or hegemonic present into the future but rather starts from the contingent nature of the present and its actual potentialities for a moving  beyond. Resistance, then, is actualizing the “not yet in the sense of a possibility” on the basis that “it could be there if we could only do something for it,” which implies an intervening in everyday practices (Giroux 2004).

In Resistance of the Third Kind and the subsequent book, The New Peasantries, Van der Ploeg captured ways in which peasants directly intervene in everyday practices. This “direct intervention in, and alteration of, the processes of labour and production – is omnipresent in today’s agriculture,” he argued. “Resistance is encountered in a wide range of heterogeneous and increasingly interlinked practices through which the peasantry constitutes itself”—through and involving, for example,  “reciprocity [and] socially regulated exchange, as well as self-provisioning enterprises” (Ploeg 2007).

In articles I co-authored with two colleagues (Öztürk et al. 2014, 2018), we discussed the ways in which smallholders—rural families, peasants—resist commodification through the maintenance of a non-commodity circuit augmented by  wage-labor outside agriculture. Though a political-economist would easily qualify the latter as an indication of proletarization or subsumption to capital, we focused on the autonomy this created, arguing that “the development of employment strategies outside of agriculture, together with retirement revenues and other social security benefits and transfers, enables families to keep their land and maintain their smallholdings” (Öztürk, Jongerden et al. 2014). As employment opportunities tend to be limited in rural regions, urban employment is sought. This is a form of resistance which “involves the adaption of a contemporary peasant way, consisting of the maintenance of autonomy in combination with an increased engagement in labour relations outside the farm. It is directly and indirectly enabled by rural development, including agricultural employment and non-farming economic activities, facilitated in part as a function of urban growth and to which villagers commit for their own benefit” (Öztürk, Jongerden et al. 2018). We concluded this “constitutes a resistance to capital,” one that was “not a resistance in the sense of a political activism, either overt (such as demonstrations, riots and strikes, mostly linked to urban contexts) or covert (false compliance, feigned ignorance and a range of other methods applied in peasant struggles), but a ‘resistance of a third kind’” (Öztürk, Jongerden et al. 2014) the intervention and alteration of processes of labor, production and reproduction that express themselves in a wide range of heterogeneous and interlinked practices.

The identification of these forms of self-constitution in our research was enabled by adoption of a critical distance from familiar political economy representations of capitalism as a massive totality occupying and determining social space. The performative effect of such representations is not only an amplification of the strength of capitalism, but also of a diminution,  belittling even, of alternatives, as tiny, irrelevant, and unrealizable (Gibson-Graham 2008: 615). For a genuine understanding of the multiplicity of present potentialities we need to dissolve these “mind-forg’d manacles” (Said 2003) of discourses which perceive subsumption, yet not meaningful difference, and see variation, yet disqualify it as false notes in the concert of capital. In order to move beyond this mental barrier imposed by capital-centric analysis, we need to perform what is referred to in autonomist thought as a “strategic inversion” (Tronti , Cleaver , Cleaver 1993)—and what Van der Ploeg has been doing in his work on peasants. This strategic inversion assumes the perspective of social struggles and the peoples involved in these struggles as an analytical lens through which to appreciate social realities, with the objective of learning about potentialities for alternative, radically different future trajectories in the here and now (Holloway 2010, Holloway 2011).

Conclusions

So, at the foundation of this resistance of a third kind, or, what is referred to as constructive, creative or productive resistance in resistance studies, are self-constituting practices. From this perspective, resistance of a third kind is part of a third mode of ordering next to and beyond the modes of ordering of capital and state.

References

Butler, J. (2015). Notes towards a performative theory of assembly. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

Cleaver, H. (1992). The Inversion of Class Perspective in Marxian Theory: from Valorization to Self-Valorization. Open Marxism: Theory and Praxis. J. Holloway, W. Bonefeld and K. Psychopedis. London, Pluto.

Cleaver, H. (1993). Kropotkin, Self-Valorisation, and the Crisis of Marxism. Anarchist Studies. T. V. Cahill. Lancaster, Lancaster University.

Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2008). “Diverse economies: performative practices for `other worlds’.” Progress in Human Geography 32(5): pp. 613-632.

Giroux, H. A. (2004). “When Hope is Subversive.” Tikkun 19(6): pp. 38-41.

Hofstee, E. W. (1982). Differentiele sociologie in kort bestek: Schets van de differentiële sociologie en haar functie in het concrete sociaal-wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Wageningen, Mededelingen van de Vakgroepen Sociologie van de Landbouwhogeschool

Holloway, J. (2010). Crack Capitalism. London, Pluto Press.

Holloway, J. (2011) “Stop making capitalism.”

Jongerden, J. (2018). Living Structures. Methodological Approaches in Kurdish Studies: Theoretical and Practical Insights from the Field. Boulder, Lexington Books: pp. 21-33.

Jongerden, J. (2019). “Learning from Defeat: Development and contestation of the “new paradigm” within Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).” Kurdish Sudies 7(1): pp. 72-92.

Koefoed, M. (2017). “Constructive Resistance in Northern Kurdistan: Exploring the Peace, Development and Resistance Nexus.” Journal of Peacebuilding & Development 12(3).

Lilja, M. and S. Vinthagen (2018). “Dispersed resistance: Unpacking the spectrum and properties of glaring everyday resistance.” Journal of Political Power 11(2): pp. 211-229.

Öztürk, M., J. Jongerden and A. Hilton (2014). “Commodification and the Social Commons: Smallholder Autonomy and Rural–Urban Kinship Communalism in Turkey.” Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy 3(3): 337-367.

Öztürk, M., J. Jongerden and A. Hilton (2018). “The (re)production of the new peasantry in Turkey.” Rural Studies.

Ploeg, J.-D. v. d. (2013). Peasants and the art offarming: a Chayanovian manifesto. Halifax, Fernwood Publishing.

Ploeg, J. D. v. d. (2007). Resistance of the third kind and the construction of sustainability. Paper presented at the ESRC Conference. Wageningen.

Ploeg, J. D. v. d. (2008). The New Peasantries, Struggles for autonomy and sustainability in an era of empire and globalization. London, Earthscan.

Said, E. (2003). Orientalism. London, Penguin Books.

Scott, J. C. (1998). Seeing Like a State: How certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed New Haven, Yale University Press.

Scott, J. C. (2009). The Art of not being Governed, an anarchist history of upland Southeast Asia. New Haven, Yale University.

Tronti, M. (1964). Lenin in England’, in Working Class Autonomy and the Crisis. London, Red Notes.

Wiskerke, J. S. C. (2009). “On Places Lost and Places Regained: Reflections on the Alternative Food Geography and Sustainable Regional Development.” International Planning Studies 14(4): pp. 369-387.

75th Anniversary: 6) The Cartophoot: Hofstee’s geographic mapping of difference

Picture 1. The cartophoot

In 1949, three years after his appointment as professor in social and economic geography, the ‘trojan horse’ through which rural sociology entered Wageningen, Evert Willem (E.W.) Hofstee became the chair of a commission to study the development of fertility in the Netherlands.[1] This Commission for Birth Research (Commissie voor het Geboorte-Onderzoek)[2] was part of the Institute for Social Research of the Dutch People (Instituut voor Sociaal Onderzoek van het Nederlandse Volk [ISONOVO]). The Institute was established in November 1940, and prepared in the 1940s and 1950s 21 monographs on rural settlements in the Netherlands to be used for socio-economic planning, among these the selection of farmers and laborers who would colonize the new Noordoostpolder.[3] Hofstee was a prominent board member of the institute[4] and a staunch advocate of regional social demographic research, however not only for planning purposes and to develop a system for the selection of these farmers and laborers, as to understand how regional characteristics, such as community and cultural ideas, influenced their behavior.[5]

In the period after World War II Hofstee became one of the pioneers of demographic research in the Netherlands. He played a role in various advisory committees and the institutionalization of demographic research. When the Interuniversity Demographic Institute (Nederlands Interuniversitair Demografisch Instituut)[6] was established in 1970, he became the first chair, a position he would keep until 1980.

Hofstee played a prominent role not only in the institutionalization of demography but also in its theoretical development. In this regard, his 1954 publication “Regional diversity in the development of the number of births in the Netherlands in the second half of the 19th century” (Regionale verscheidenheid in de ontwikkeling van het aantal geboorten in Nederland in de 2e helft van de 19e eeuw) cannot remain unmentioned. In this book, Hofstee argued that socio-economic circumstances, creating new cultural patterns, explain the differences in fertility among different groups in the Netherlands, and not, as was generally believed at the time, religious differences. In 1978, he published his magnus opus, “The Demographic Development of the Netherlands in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century.”[7] The book was praised – for “filling an intolerable gap in the history of the Low Countries” – yet controversial for its unconventional explanations of population increase – such as “increase in the frequency of marital sexual intercourse” and the belief that “sexual norms and mores were swept away by the Dutch ‘intoxification with liberation’ following the I8I3-14 revolution”.[8]

Figure 2. Pieces of the puzzle

To do his demographic work, Hofstee pioneered an important technological innovation in the development of thematic maps. At that time, the making of these thematic maps, in which a particular variable was highlighted on a map of the Netherlands, was labor intensive and time consuming. Making just a single map could take several days. To speed up this process, Hofstee developed the Cartophoot (Kartophoot) in collaboration with the Klaus Toys Factory (Klaus Speelgoedindustrie), a handicraft business in Bussum that specialized in making jigsaw puzzles from triplex.[9] Developed between 1953 and 1957,[10] the Cartophoot is essentially itself a giant puzzle, its pieces being the 1,138 municipalities of the Netherlands in 1856.

Hofstee’s creation had ten pieces in different colors and shades for each municipality. As soon as statistical data were translated to classes, the color or shade of a municipality could be determined. An assistant would make the thematic map within a couple of hours, after which a photograph was taken, and the map was now ready for publication.[11]

Picture 3. An assistant of Hofstee makes a map using the Cartophoot (Source: Vanhoute 2005: 140)

The Cartophoot became an important tool for geo-demographic analysis, and Hofstee and his assistants, one of them Henk van Espelo, made hundreds of such maps. The maps were used for synchronic and diachronic analyses of population growth and decline, the labor intensity of farms, the number of agricultural workers, and suchlike. Prominent institutes in the Netherlands, such as the Central Bureau for Statistics CBS (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek), bought the Cartophoot from the Klaus Toys factory, until the development of computers and information technology for the making and adaption of thematic maps rendered Hofstee’s innovation obsolete in the 1970s and 80s. Now considered a predecessor of GIS, the Cartophoot, has become part of our academic heritage. The Cartophoot Hofstee used is at the social sciences building in the Leeuwenborch, while the maps he made with it are part of Wageningen University’s special collection.[12]

 

[1] http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/bwn1880-2000/lemmata/bwn5/hofstee

[2] http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/emigratie/gids/persoon/1919940894

[3] Schuyt, K. and E. Taverne (2004). Dutch Culture in a European Perspective: 1950 Prosperity and Welfare. New York, Van Gorucm/Palgrave, p.75.

[4] Hofstee would become chair of ISONEVO and, together with the sociologist Van Doorn, signed the documents through which its successor was established, the Interuniversity Institute for Social-Science Research SISWO (Interuniversitair Instituut voor Sociaal-Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek), see Winkels, J. (1982). ISONEVO: Het Instituut voor Sociaal Onderzoek van het Nederlandse Volk. Amsterdam, SISWO

[5] Schuyt, K. and E. Taverne (2004). Dutch Culture in a European Perspective: 1950 Prosperity and Welfare. New York, Van Gorucm/Palgrave, p.76.

[6] NIDI developed from an interuniversity institute towards an interdisciplinary institute, and its name changed in Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute in 1987.

[7] Hofstee, E. W. (1978). De Demografische Ontwikkeling van Nederland in de Eerste Helft van de Negentiende Eeuw: een Historisch-demografische en Sociologische Studie. Decventer, Van Loghum Slaterus & Nederlands Interuniversitair Demografisch Instituut.

[8] “Hofstee rejects the possibility of lower mar- riage ages and lower celibacy rates in favour of a plausible but inadequately docu- mented increase in marital fertility. The latter is explained by Hofstee by a sudden increase in the frequency of marital sexual intercourse which, amazingly, is unique to the Netherlands, not a country otherwise noted for its radical and violent social and economic change.” See:  Mokyr, J. (1979). “Book Review: De Demografische Ontwikkeling van Nederland in de Erste Helft van de Negentiende Eeuw: Een Historisch-demografische en Sociologische Studie.by E. W. Hofstee.” The Economic History Review 32(3): pp. 438-439.

[9] https://www.weespernieuws.nl/reader/134757/115843/uit-de-historie-v

[10] https://wur.on.worldcat.org/search?queryString=cartophoot#/oclc/1012508174

[11] Since the number of municipalities declined in the following decades, Hofstee needed to recalculate or interpolate the original statistics in order to make them fit the map (Eric Vanhaute, 2005. The Belgium Historical GIS, p. 139, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/294125390_The_Belgium_historical_GIS; Anton Schuurman, “De Cartophoot, sociaal-geografisch puzzelen,” unpublished manuscript).

[12] https://wur.on.worldcat.org/search?queryString=cartophoot#/oclc/1012508174

Landbouwbedrijven hebben steeds meer bronnen van inkomsten

Steeds meer agrarische bedrijven halen hun inkomen uit andere dan pure landbouwactiviteiten. Slechts een derde van de Nederlandse agrarische bedrijven legt zich toe op de primaire productie van bijvoorbeeld melk of varkensvlees en richt zich op de wereldmarkt. Zij proberen tegen zo laag mogelijke kosten te produceren. De overige bedrijven hanteren een veelzijdiger strategie om inkomsten te genereren.

Dat blijkt uit een enquête-onderzoek naar bedrijfsstrategie en toekomstperspectief van uitgeverij Agrio en de leerstoelgroep Rurale Sociologie van Wageningen University & Research. De enquête die deze zomer werd gehouden onder ruim 1200 agrarische bedrijven laat een aanzienlijke verbreding van inkomstenbronnen zien ten opzichte van het laatste grootschalig onderzoek midden jaren negentig naar bedrijfsstrategieën in de landbouw. In 1995 combineerde 22% van de bedrijven landbouw met andere bedrijfsactiviteiten, nu is dat 50%.

Agrarische bedrijven hanteren diverse strategieën om inkomen uit hun activiteiten te genereren. De meest oorspronkelijke route is die van de primaire productie van akkerbouwgewassen, zoals tarwe, en veeteelt, met melk, vlees of eieren als producten. In de afgelopen decennia hebben agrariërs naast akkerbouw en veehouderij ook andere inkomstenbronnen gegenereerd. Tegenwoordig is er een heel scala aan activiteiten zoals agro-toerisme, agrarisch natuurbeheer, een zorgboerderij en activiteiten die geen specifieke agrarische link hebben, zoals energieproductie met zonnepanelen of windmolens. Puur en alleen landbouwproductie komt nog maar bij de helft van de bedrijven voor, terwijl dat in 1995 nog op 78% van de bedrijven het geval was.

Han Wiskerke, hoogleraar Rurale sociologie aan Wageningen University & Research, die het onderzoek begeleidde, noemt de toegenomen diversiteit van strategieën binnen de landbouw onderbelicht. „Het beeld in de media werd het afgelopen jaar vooral gedomineerd door de stroming die zich richt op specialisatie en schaalvergroting. Uit ons onderzoek blijkt dit slechts één van de vele stromingen te zijn.”

Arbeidsmarkt gunstig voor extra activiteiten

De bedrijven die zich richten op verbreding en toegevoegde waarde (zoals eigen productverwerking), genereren opmerkelijk meer arbeid. Daarmee leveren ze een bijdrage aan de werkgelegenheid en de leefbaarheid van het platteland. Volgens Wiskerke zou het goed zijn als overheden zich bewust zijn van het feit dat bepaalde vormen van landbouwontwikkeling ook veel werkgelegenheid creëren. „Ik heb de indruk dat beleid gericht op het behouden en creëren van werkgelegenheid op het platteland zich niet op landbouw maar op andere economische sectoren richt.” Wiskerke plaatst daarbij wel een kanttekening. “De activiteiten die potentieel veel werkgelegenheid creëren doen zich vooral voor nabij steden en in toeristische gebieden (met name langs de kust), omdat daar nu eenmaal de meeste mensen wonen of recreëren en daar dus de meeste consumenten en afnemers van die boerendiensten te vinden zijn.”

Ontevreden over inkomen uit landbouw

Uit het onderzoek blijkt dat boeren die zich richten op specialisatie en productie voor de wereldmarkt op veel fronten afwijken ten opzichte van boeren met een andere strategie. Dat neemt niet weg dat voor alle boeren geldt dat ze ontevreden zijn over de inkomsten uit agrarische activiteiten. Bijna de helft is erg ontevreden of behoorlijk ontevreden. Het minst tevreden over het inkomen uit de landbouw zijn boeren met een bedrijfsstrategie waarbij zij zgn. groenblauwe diensten leveren, zoals beheer van sloten, en verbreding, zoals zorglandbouw of agrotoerisme. Daarentegen zijn deze boeren wel het meest tevreden over hun bedrijfsinkomen. Maar ook voor de boeren die zich richten op specialisatie en productie voor de wereldmarkt is het moeilijk om met alleen landbouw rond te komen, constateert prof. Wiskerke. “Puur van landbouw rondkomen is moeilijk.”

Veranderende regelgeving als belemmering

Als grootste belemmering voor bedrijfsontwikkeling staat bij alle bedrijfsstrategieën met stip op één: steeds veranderende regelgeving. 63 procent van de deelnemers kruiste dit aan. Agrariërs hebben behoefte aan een duidelijke langjarige overheidsvisie. “Daarop kunnen zij hun bedrijfsstrategie, waarbij vaak investeringen gemoeid zijn, inrichten,” licht prof. Wiskerke toe.

Kwart van gezinsinkomen afhankelijk van landbouw

Uit het onderzoek blijkt dat van alle bedrijven in de enquête slechts een kwart voor het gezinsinkomen volledig afhankelijk is van de landbouw. Bij de overige 75 procent bestaat het gezinsinkomen uit landbouw plus andere bedrijfsactiviteiten, een baan buiten het bedrijf of een combinatie daarvan. “Dat kan een teken van bittere noodzaak zijn, omdat ondernemers het met alleen landbouw financieel niet redden”, zegt prof. Wiskerke. “Maar het kan ook een uiting zijn van veranderende opvattingen over wat goed of toekomstbestendig agrarisch ondernemerschap is.” Tien jaar geleden gaf 72 procent van de ondernemers van multifunctionele bedrijven aan dat direct contact met burgers en consumenten de belangrijkste drijfveer was voor verbreding. Ook financiële risicospreiding werd toen door de helft genoemd. “En het kan ook een teken zijn van een verdere emancipatie van de boerin / vrouw van de boer, waarbij de nadruk ligt op een eigen carrière en inkomen buiten het bedrijf of een eigen bedrijfsactiviteit voortkomend uit eigen expertise en interesse. Het zijn toch overwegend vrouwen, veelal met werkervaring buiten de landbouw, die de drijvende kracht zijn achter verbredingsactiviteiten.”

Verantwoording onderzoek

Het onderzoek naar agrarische bedrijfsontwikkeling is een initiatief van uitgeverij Agrio en is in samenwerking met de leerstoelgroep Rurale Sociologie van Wageningen University & Research opgezet. Eind juli en begin augustus voerde marktonderzoeksbureau Geelen Consultancy het onderzoek digitaal uit. Aan het onderzoek namen ruim 1200 boeren deel. Het aandeel biologische boeren (6 procent) en veebedrijven is licht oververtegenwoordigd en tuinbouwbedrijven zijn juist ondervertegenwoordigd.

Bron

Persbericht Wageningen University & Research, nr 101, 30 oktober 2020

Zie ook: Veehouders willen stikstofruimte inleveren

MSc thesis vacancy: developing an urban agriculture typology within a European Context

The European Forum for a Comprehensive Vision on Urban Agriculture (EFUA) has the objective to unlock Urban Agriculture’s potential by achieving better knowledge, better deployment, and better policies in this field. The Chair groups Rural Sociology and Health and Society and Wageningen Plant Research are managing a work package that aims to update knowledge on the types and benefits of Urban Agriculture (e.g. social cohesion, local food provision, health, biodiversity, business generation). We are looking for students who have an interest to collaborate in this European Forum to identify stakeholders and develop a typology of urban agriculture. Your work will be the starting point for understanding the benefits of Urban Agriculture. The research also supports a European agenda on urban agriculture, co-designed within EFUA.

Starting date is flexible. For more information, contact Esther Veen (RSO), Lenneke Vaandrager (HSO) or Jan Eelco Jansma (Wageningen Plant Research).

Zes inspirerende voorbeelden van duurzaam landgebruik – brochure @Toekomstboeren

Vereniging Toekomstboeren maakt zich sterk voor duurzame landbouw en ijvert voor langdurig toegang tot land voor beginnende boeren tegen een redelijke vergoeding om een duurzaam bestaan op te kunnen opbouwen.

Een toenemend aantal beginnende boeren, of zij die graag willen beginnen met een eigen boeren bedrijf, zoeken toegang tot land. Ze kunnen niet beschikken over land in eigendom bij de familie of hebben te weinig eigen vermogen om land te kunnen kopen. Vereniging Toekomstboeren heeft de Wetenschapswinkel van Wageningen University and Research ingeschakeld om studenten uit te laten zoeken hoe beginnende boeren op andere wijze dan gebruikelijk, langdurig toegang kunnen krijgen tot land in eigendom bij derden.

Landbouwgrond is erg duur. De pachtprijs van landbouwgrond is navenant hoog. De prijs van landbouwgrond staat niet in verhouding tot wat de oogst aan inkomsten oplevert. De hoge prijs voor landbouwgrond staat een duurzaam gebruik van landbouwgrond in de weg. Voor boeren in het algemeen, en beginnende boeren zonder land bij uitstek, is het erg lastig om een bestaan op te bouwen.

Het door studenten als onderdeel van hun opleiding uitgevoerde onderzoek, richtte zich op een aantal aansprekende praktijkvoorbeelden van andere dan gangbare landgebuiksovereenkomsten, zijnde: a) gezamenlijk of co-eigendom van land door burgers en boeren (commoning) en b) alternatieve pachtconstructies. De vraag was hoe deze andere dan gangbare overeenkomsten in elkaar steken en wat ervan te leren valt voor de betrokken partijen.

De bevindingen zijn samengevat in de brochure ‘Zes inspirerende voorbeelden van duurzaam landgebruik: pachten bij gemeente en boeren in gemeenschap’. Zie ook de projectpagina van de Wetenschapswinkel: https://www.wur.nl/nl/show/Boeren-zonder-land-hoe-is-dat-mogelijk-1.htm

Neem voor meer informatie contact op met Vereniging Toekomstboeren info@toekomstboeren.nl of projectleider dirk.roep@wur.nl

75th Anniversary: 5) Sociology as Sociography

“Korenveld” by Lianne Koster – licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

When Evert Willem (E.W.) Hofstee, founding father of rural sociology in the Netherlands, started his academic career as lecturer at Groningen University in 1938, he defined his work as ‘sociography’ (Hofstee 1938). In this, he was clearly following in the footsteps of his teacher and tutor, Sebald Rudolf Steinmetz (1862- 1940), who had created the new discipline from a fusion of sociology and geography (Karel 2002: 2-3). Only later would Hofstee add the word “sociology” to the domain of his work. Thus, the department (“vakgroep”) he established and headed at the Agricultural University in Wageningen from 1954 onwards was named “sociography and sociology” before being renamed as “sociology”, and then, more precisely, “rural sociology”. Nevertheless, until the end of his life, he remained committed to the agenda of “sociography”: a grounded theoretical approach with low levels of abstraction and high probability of practical application (Hofstee 1938, Hofstee 1982; Karel 2002).

Sociography

In the year after he obtained his PhD in 1937, a “sociography” of Het Oldambt, a region in the eastern part of Groningen province in the north of the Netherlands, Hofstee was appointed as an unsalaried university lecturer in sociography embedded within Groningen University’s Faculty of Law. In the public lecture preceding the start of his teaching there, he gave an overview of the development and meaning of sociography, the discipline in which he firmly positioned himself, and which had produced an impressive number of studies in the first decade after its establishment. Hofstee’s overview was imbued with the ideas of Steinmetz, the founder of this relatively new discipline. In brief, Hofstee argued that the sociography developed by Steinmetz and adopted by himself can be characterized as a field of study interested in the social life of people and the diversity emerging from this social life, following inductive methods (Hofstee 1938).

For Hoftee, Steinmetz’s and sociography’s primary objects of study are people’s social lives and their particularities. This interest is rooted in a concern for human beings, not what he refers to as an “abstract,” “systematized,” “schematized,” or “idealized” human being, but the “concrete, living” human beings; human beings in their diversity, with “their lows and heights” (Hofstee 1938: 5 ). While Hofstee identified the abstract and generalized with sociology, he considered the concrete and particular the domain of sociography. Hofstee’s peer and colleague, Sjoerd Groenman, had argued in a similar vein that sociology generalizes, while sociography studies the particular (Groenman 1948: 4). As an “individualizing sociology”, sociography focuses on “concrete situations” and “groups” (ibid.  7).  

Hofstee’s interest in the concrete, the lived and the particular, marked his inclination towards “inductive” research methodology, making in-depth descriptions of the social groups (Hofstee 1938: 7-8). He combined this with a comparative approach. In his own research, conceptualization from in-depth and comparative descriptions yielded the concept of “farming styles” in agricultural production (Groenman 1948: 11). In today’s language, we would refer to this inductive approach with its conceptualization from in-depth description as ‘grounded theory’.

Hofstee distinguished sociology and sociography as separate but related sciences, the one developing abstract theories beyond time and place and the other developing an analytical understanding of the particular. This distinction between the general and the particular (Hofstee 1938: 11) was rooted in the apparent distinction between theory and research as it existed in the 1920s and 30s, a distinction that formed the background for the separation of sociology and sociography (Doorn and Lammers: 53). Sociology’s tendency to abstraction, influenced by the philosophy-oriented German sociology, left the empirical field unexplored, now to be claimed by sociography. Yet Hofstee did not see sociography as an independent academic discipline but rather as providing the data for the sociologist, who would be able to develop fact based instead of speculative theory. The sociographer, collecting data – without theoretical assumptions or perspective (Karel 2002: 2-3) – does the ‘field work’ for the sociologist, making sociography the “auxiliary science” of sociology (Hofstee 1938 1105: 11, 15).

However, Hofstee did not only see the research oriented sociography as supportive towards theoretical sociology, he also considered sociography important for policy (Hofstee 1938 1105: 18). As the state increasingly intervened in people’s economic and social life, so too did its need to acquire knowledge about diverse groups in society so that policy could be better assessed: “Without study, study and more study,” the state is unable to properly fulfill its task (Hofstee 1938 1105: 20), and it is the sociographers who can supply the knowledge required (Hofstee 1938 1105: 19). For Hofstee, sociography was an applied science (Karel 2002). Social scientific research in support of ordering interventions in Dutch society (Winkels,1982: 79).

Between unripe sociology and over-ripe geography

Only ten years after Hofstee’s public lecture at the University of Groningen, Hofstee’s close colleague, Sjoerd Groenman, had concluded in his inaugural lecture at Utrecht University that sociography in the Netherlands had not delivered on its promise to become a powerful support for sociology. The material it inductively obtained had been of very little use in making generalizations (Groenman 1948 1103: 4). In fact, as the product of an unripe sociology and an over-ripe geography (Doorn and Lammers), it had remained more like a chorography, the description of regions, than a description of forms of social living (Groenman 1948 1103: 4-5). Rather than taking social groups as its object of study, Dutch sociography had produced what were essentially geographically-based descriptions of regions (Groenman 1948 1103: 6), yet in a way it had provided hardly anything more than uneven, incidental data of an unequal kind and therefore not useful to the sociologist (Groenman 1948 1103: 6, 15). In short, sociography had fallen short of its self-assigned duty to sociology (Groenman 1948 1103: 16). Hofstee himself came to a similar conclusion at a conference on sociography he hosted at the Institute for Social Research of the Dutch People in 1953 (Hofstee 1953).

Sociography had not only failed to deliver, the distinction the practitioners of sociography had made between theory and research became less pronounced too. In the 1950s, the contradiction between theory and research, which had been the basis of the sociology-sociography distinction, had become less pronounced with the influence of American empirical sociology on the social sciences in the Netherlands. Moreover, several universities in the Netherlands started to offer masters in sociology – Utrecht 1951, Nijmegen 1953, Groningen 1955, the Free University (VU) of Amsterdam 1959, Wageningen 1962, and Rotterdam 1968 (Haan and Leeuw 1995). In short, the failure to deliver and to distinguish itself from geography as well as the empirical turn and institutionalization of sociology marked the end of sociography. In Utrecht, sociography  became part of social geography and in Amsterdam part of sociology (Doorn and Lammers 1958). In Wageningen sociography becomes rural sociology, the study of social groups and phenomena within a rural configuration. So in a period of only a few decades sociography became reduced to a specialization within geography or dissolved into sociology.

Sociography’s new cloths: Differential sociology

At the beginning of the 1980s, at the end of his academic career, Hofstee defined his approach as a “differential sociology”:

‘Differential’ sociological theory will in many respects be different from the currently existing sociological theories. First of all, as is already implied in the foregoing, ‘differential’ sociology does not aim at generalizations with a high level of universality. On the contrary, their validity will almost always be limited by time and place. Generalizations arrived at by ‘differential’ sociology will mostly not even function at ‘middle’ level but only at ‘lower’ levels of abstraction, since they have to remain directly applicable to the factual social reality. Otherwise, they will lose their capacity to explain the characteristics of a particular group. In other words, in comparison with general sociological theories, ‘differential’ sociology is much more concerned with social phenomena of greater complexity. ‘Differential’ sociology means a comparative study of more or less similar single groups. It is interested in groups as such, and not in abstracted and isolated social traits. Even if it is interested in specific group characteristics, it will try to interpret them against the characteristics of the group as a whole. (Hofstee 1982: 54)

Hofstee’s differential sociology, as he emphasized time and again, did not aim at high levels of abstraction, referred to as generalization, therefore, but at explanations of the social reality of a particular group in time and space. This low-level abstraction was supposed to contribute to an understanding of the social worlds of identified groups, in all their complexity. Hofstee’s concept of “farming styles”, a shared understanding about how to farm shared by a group of farmers and the way this materializes, was one such low-level abstraction, one that has proved useful to understand diversity in farming practices. With his description of differential sociology, therefore, Hofstee could not have given a better definition of sociography.

Bibliography

Doorn, J. A. A. v. and C. J. Lammers (1958). “Sociologie en Sociografie.” De Gids 5(2): pp. 49-78.

Groenman, S. (1948). Kanttekeningen bij de Voortgang van het Sociale Onderzoek in Nederland, rede uitgesproken bij de aanvaarding van het ambt van buitengewoon hoogleraar in de socilogie aan de Rijksuniversiteit te Utrecht op Maandag 1 november 1948 Meppel, Fa. Stenvert & Zoon.

Haan, J. d. and F. d. Leeuw (1995). “Sociology in the Netherlands ” The American Sociologist, Winter 1995: pp. 70-87.

Hofstee, E. W. (1938). De Sociografie, haar ontwikkeling en haar betekenis, Openbare les gegeven bij de aanvang zijner colleges en de opening van het sociologisch instituut gevestigd aan de Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen op 18 october 1938 Groningen, J.B. Wolters Uitgevers Maatschappij.

Hofstee, E. W. (1953). Sociografie in de Practijk. Sociografie in de Practijk. S. Groenman, W. R. Heere, E. W. Hofstee et al. Assen, Van Gorcum & Comp. N.V.: pp. 1-6.

Hofstee, E. W. (1982). Differentiële Sociologie in Kort Bestek: Schets van de differentiële sociologie en haar functie in het concrete sociaal-wetenschappelijk onderzoek. Wageningen, Mededelingen van de Vakgroepen Sociologie van de Landbouwhogeschool.

Karel, E. (2002). “Rural sociologists and their theories on the Dutch agricultural development after the Second World War.” Paper presented at the European Economic and Social History Conference in The Hague. February 26th – March 2nd, 2002.

Winkels, J. (1982). ISONEVO: Het Instituut voor Sociaal Onderzoek van het Nederlandse Volk. Amsterdam, SISWO.

MSc-thesis topics ‘De natuur als behandelkamer’

Vanuit het lopende Wetenschapswinkelproject De natuur als behandelkamer bieden wij verschillende thesis topics aan: https://www.wur.nl/nl/project/De-natuur-als-behandelkamer-voor-volwassenen.htm

For earlier advertised topics in the same project, please click here.

Topic 1: Leefstijlgeneeskunde en bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur

Leefstijlgeneeskunde wil zeggen dat zorgverleners zoals huisarts, POH of medisch specialist een gezondere leefstijl bespreken, adviseren en ondersteunen tijdens (standaard) consulten met patiënten. Deze leefstijlverandering kan zowel een preventieve als een therapeutische werking hebben, dus ter voorkoming of zelfs behandeling van chronische aandoeningen die gerelateerd zijn aan leefstijl, zoals diabetes en hart- en vaatziekten. Hiermee richt leefstijlgeneeskunde zich op een vrij breed scala aan gedragsfactoren die gezondheid (mede) bepalen, zoals roken, voeding, bewegen, ontspanning en slaap, maar ook sociale context en zingeving.

In de Geestelijke Gezondheidszorg (GGZ) laten BIG-geregistreerde psychologen begeleiding steeds vaker in de natuur plaatsvinden, met o.a. als doel om de patiënt te ‘activeren’. Steeds meer empirisch onderzoek ondersteunt dat de ‘natuur als behandelkamer’ voordelige effecten heeft op het herstelproces, het welzijn van de zorgprofessional en dus de kwaliteit van de begeleiding.

Op dit moment is onduidelijk in hoeverre het stimuleren van bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur aandacht krijgt in onderzoek naar en toepassing van leefstijlgeneeskunde. Ten opzichte van binnen heeft bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur een aantal voordelen. De natuur heeft op zichzelf al ontspannende effecten. Daarnaast stimuleren lagere buitentemperaturen de activiteit van zogenaamd bruin vet, om lichaamswarmte te genereren. Dit draagt bij tot extra gewichtsafname en een gezondere lichaamssamenstelling. Naast deze fysiologische effecten, kent buiten zijn op sociaal en psychologisch vlak ook tal van voordelen. Bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur draagt bij aan een betere kwaliteit van sociale relaties en verbetert de gemoedstoestand. Kortom, het scala aan positieve effecten van het zijn in de natuur sluit goed aan bij de holistische aanpak van leefstijlgeneeskunde.

Mogelijke onderzoeksvragen: Wat zijn de percepties, wensen, ideeën en ervaringen van patiënten en zorgverleners ten aanzien van bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur? Wat zijn volgens deze twee/nader te specificeren groepen de mogelijkheden en barrières voor (meer) bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur? Hoe kan bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur effectief worden gestimuleerd in het kader van leefstijlgeneeskunde?

Topic 2: Klimaatverandering en bewegen en ontspannen in de natuur

In de natuur bewegen en ontspannen heeft een aantal voordelen ten opzichte van binnen. De natuur heeft gunstige, want ontspannende effecten, op mensen. Daarnaast stimuleert een lagere buitentemperatuur de activiteit van zogenaamd bruin vet, om lichaamswarmte te genereren. Dit draagt bij tot extra gewichtsafname en een gezondere lichaamssamenstelling, bovenop de ‘normale’ gezondheidseffecten van bewegen. Klimaatverandering kan echter waargenomen en reële barrières opwerpen om de natuur in te gaan. Er is bijvoorbeeld in toenemende mate sprake van droogte en hittegolven. Daar hebben veel mensen last van, waardoor die meer geneigd zijn binnen te blijven. Dit is ook in lijn met het overheidsadvies zoals beschreven in het Nationaal Hitteplan (RIVM: “Blijf in de schaduw en beperk lichamelijke inspanning in de middag (tussen 12:00 en 18:00 uur.”). Daarnaast leidt de combinatie van warmte en droogte tot meer luchtverontreiniging (ook wel zomersmog genoemd), wat negatieve korte en lange termijn gevolgen heeft voor o.m. luchtwegen, en hart en vaten. Tot slot leidt klimaatverandering tot een toename van teken en muggen (en evt. andere vectoren) die infectieziekten kunnen overbrengen zoals Lyme en Dengue.

Al met al leiden deze ontwikkelingen tot de vraag hoe de optimale adaptatie aan klimaatverandering op het gebied van in de natuur zijn en bewegen eruit ziet. De complexiteit zit onder andere in het feit dat mogelijke risico’s door stakeholders niet moeten worden onderschat, omdat dat een bedreiging vormt voor de volksgezondheid. Anderzijds moet er ook geen angst worden gecreëerd, waardoor risico’s worden overschat en mensen niet meer de natuur in gaan.

Mogelijke onderzoeksvragen: Wat zijn de percepties van stakeholders ten aanzien van de gevolgen van klimaatverandering voor in de natuur zijn en bewegen? In welke mate is hierbij specifieke doelgroepen sprake van onder- of overschatting van (specifieke) risico’s? Hoe kunnen we adaptie aan klimaatverandering rondom in de natuur zijn en bewegen het beste vormgeven? Hoe ziet de ‘optimale’ adaptatie eruit? En hoe, en door wie, kan die adaptatie in diverse settings en richting diverse doelgroepen het beste worden gecommuniceerd of vormgegeven in interventies?

Voor meer informatie: esther.veen@wur.nl (RSO), roald.pijpker@wur.nl (HSO) of bob.mulder@wur.nl (COM)