In the field of diverse economies, researchers have paid particular attention to diverse forms of economic organisation and exchange that make up our food system, disrupting dominant development narratives that privilege capital, markets, wages, private property and mainstream financing (Gibson-Graham, 2006). Examples in the literature are multifunctional agriculture (Renting et al., 2009), communal land use (Soto, 2014; Caballero, 2015), ecosystem service provisioning (Bolund and Hunhammar, 1999; Braat and De Groot, 2012), and sharing food or skills to reduce waste, or foster greater food security (Davies et al., 2017). These manifestations of diverse economies are often captured and explained through the theoretical lens of the social economy, an umbrella term used to describe a variety of third sector, cooperative, voluntary, non-profit, and social enterprise initiatives that put social and environmental well-being before profit.
Problem definition / hypothesis
In Galicia, a ‘green’ region in the northwest corner of Spain, industrialisation and urbanisation mainly takes part in the coastal area. The mountainous interior consists of forests and pastures for beef and dairy cattle, creating a strong divide between the urban and the rural, and their development pathways. Primary production, with relatively low added value, remains important to Galicia’s economic production. The daily fabric of life, in rural but also in industrial-urban environments, is anchored in what can be termed the social economy. Whilst formal collaborative and/or cooperative approaches to market access or income generation are often lacking, the question pops up – whether and how these everyday practices (can) build upon existing social economy dynamics. This research seeks to understand, how communities in these places negotiate social, economic, and environmental concerns by practicing diverse economies in urban and rural areas, and how these practices can contribute to realizing social economies
Communal forestry and mountain farming
Empirical studies in Galicia on the diverse economies of food, agriculture, and nature (i.e. the local resource base, e.g. ecosystems services, green infrastructure, or more theoretically: ecological capital) will contribute to the (yet often) unrecognised role of the social economy in bringing about economic development in relation to provisioning of ecosystem services and/or green infrastructure.
Depending on the preferences of individual students for empirical research subjects, and a possibly simultaneous implementation of MSc thesis projects, research subjects can consist of communal (agro) forestry (in urban and/or rural contexts), mountain farming (in more remote rural areas), or a combination of these.
Research topics include but are not limited to:
- Mapping diverse economies of food, agriculture, and nature: initiatives and projects (focus: forestry and farm activities), community and/or household configurations, collaboration (different aggregation levels), payments and income strategies (private and public goods), availability of regional policy support schemes, support structures for similar initiatives elsewhere
- Developing strategies to enhance local business opportunities (forestry and farming activities, food and other ecosystem service provisioning in relation to e.g. gastronomy and tourism), identify and describe heterogeneity in best practices, report bottlenecks in relation to place-based development (taking into account spatial relationships)
Planning of an MSc thesis research project
The overall goal of these MSc thesis projects are to a) advance our understanding of the diverse and social economies in rural, peri-urban and urban areas, and b) identify and promote policies, governance models and practices that foster this type of social innovation, with the aim to also enhance more mainstream economic production: contribute to creating value added, market access, and additional farm income for primary producers.
An assignment will be drawn up together with the student: an initial research plan in advance to leaving to Galicia for the field research, and a more definitive plan at arrival, in collaboration with local stakeholders.
Research requires a stay of 3 months or longer at the University of Vigo / in Galicia.
Start date: Spring or Summer 2019
- You have training in qualitative methods and are able to conduct qualitative research in Spanish or Galician (Thesis is written in English)
- You have an interest in engaging diverse stakeholders in participatory and collaborative research
- You have one or more of the following skills and/or interests: able to use basic excel and mapping tools; interest in diverse economies and social innovation and/or spatial relationships; experience with assessment and evaluation
- You are registered for one of the following MSc programmes: MID, MCS, MLP, MFT, or MOA
- You have completed at least 2 RSO courses (or other relevant social science courses)
- Questions? Please get in touch!
Supervisors: RSO Oona Morrow firstname.lastname@example.org & GEN Paul Swagemakers email@example.com (University of Vigo, Galicia, Spain)
Works cited & further reading:
Bolund, P., Hunhammar, S., 1999. Ecosystem services in urban areas. Ecological Economics 29, 293–301
Braat, L.C., De Groot, R., 2012. The ecosystem services agenda: bridging the worlds of natural science and economics, conservation and development, and public and private policy. Ecosystem Services, 1, 4–15.
Caballero, G.,2015. Community-based forest management institutions in the Galician communal forests: a new institutional approach. Forest Policy and Economics 50, 347–356
Gibson-Graham, J.K., 2006. A Postcapitalist Politics. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis
Gibson-Graham, J. K., 2008. Diverse economies: performative practices for other worlds’. Progress in Human Geography, 32(5), 613-632
Jongerden, J.P., 2018. Living Structures : Methodological Considerations on People and Place. In: Methodological Approaches in Kurdish Studies. Baser, B., Toivanen, M., Zorlu, B., Duman, Y. (Eds.), Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield Publisher), Lanham, 21 – 33
Morrow, O., Dombroski, K., 2015. Enacting a Postcapitalist Politics through the Sites and Practices of Life’s Work. In: Precarious Worlds: Contested Geographies of Social Reproduction. Meehan, K., Stauss, K. (Eds.), University of Georgia Press, Georgia
Öztürk, M., Topaloğlu, B., Hilton, A., Jongerden, J., 2017. Rural‒Urban Mobilities in
Turkey: Socio-spatial Perspectives on Migration and Return Movements, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 20(5), 513 – 530
Renting, H., Rossing, W.A.H., Groot, J.C.J., van der Ploeg, J.D., Laurent, C., Perraud, D., Stobbelaar, D.J., van Ittersum, M.K., 2009. Exploring multifunctional agriculture: a review of conceptual approaches and prospects for an integrative transitional framework. Journal of Environmental Management 90, 112–123
Soto, D., 2014. Community, institutions and environment in conflicts over commons in Galicia, northwest Spain (18th–20th centuries). International Journal on Strikes and Social Conflicts 5, 58–76
Swagemakers, P., Domínguez García, M.D., Milone, P., Ventura, F., Wiskerke, J.S.C., in press. Exploring cooperative place-based approaches to restorative agriculture. Journal of Rural Studies. Online first, doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2018.12.003
Swagemakers, P., Dominguez Garcia, M.D., Wiskerke, J.S.C., 2018. Socially-innovative development and value creation: how a composting project in Galicia (Spain) ‘hit the rocks’. Sustainability 10(6), 2040
Swagemakers, P., Dominguez Garcia, M.D., Onofa Torres, A., Oostindie, H., Groot, J.C.J., 2017. A values-based approach to exploring synergies between livestock farming and landscape conservation in Galicia (Spain). Sustainability 9(11), 1987
Wiskerke, J.S.C., Verhoeven, S., 2018. Flourishing foodscapes: designing city-region food systems. Valiz, Amsterdam
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), 369-387