75th Anniversary: 18) On Eros, Rural Encounters and Local Responses: Rural Sociology’s 25th and 50th anniversary

Since Wageningen rural sociology celebrates its 75th anniversary, this implies we had two previous anniversaries: the 25th and the 50th. At both occasions, anniversary books were published.

Images and Realities of Rural Life (click on the title to get access to the book) was published at the occasion of 50 years Wageningen rural sociology. Edited by Henk de Haan and Norman Long, the anniversary book offers “a sample of recent work by sociology staff members and sketches out possible future trajectories” (Haan and Long 1997: vii). The book does not look back, as claims to reputation should be built on achievements, and not on the past, the editors state. “Ancestral rituals have their function in strengthening the sense of identity among current staff members and students, and may also serve as an historical claim on the present and future existence of a robust sociology in Wageningen”, yet the identity and standing of sociology in Wageningen, the editors contend, should be constructed on current “research profile, thinking and academic performance” (ibid.).

Multifunctionality (click on the title to get access to the book, in Dutch), celebrating 25 years rural sociology in Wageningen, is no less ambitious, even though editor G.A. Kooy presents it as an “unpretentious book” and in spite of the book’s playful tone (“It was not so long ago that the professor in Leiden wondered what on earth they were doing in Wageningen during winter, if they were doing anything at all during that season”). The first chapter gives an introduction to Wageningen sociology’s past and its founder, Hofstee. This introduction to the book situates the establishment of rural sociology against the development of Wageningen as an agricultural university and discusses the advancement of rural sociology as a discipline in relation to the person, Hofstee, and the group he established. There’s also ample reference to Steinmetz, the founder of the Amsterdam sociography-school, and Hofstee’s mentor (see also Blog 5). The sociographical approach which Hofstee adhered to aimed to develop analytical concepts and understanding through meticulous empirical exploration – an approach which had left its mark on Wageningen rural sociology. Anyone interested in a thorough overview of the first 25 years, the people, approaches and themes should read Kooy’s extensive introduction to the book (in Dutch).

The 25th anniversary book offers samples of recent work by staff members too. The book covers a wide range of topics, from contributions on rurality and radical farmers as well as contributions one would not directly associate with rural and agrarian studies, such as abortion, anti-conception, sexuality, and Eros. This diversity was an expression of the two souls in Wageningen sociology in the late 1960s and 1970s: rural sociology and demography. The demography section, would later secede and institutionalize around household-, family- and health-studies.

The contributions to the 50th anniversary book are firmly rooted in agrarian and rural studies of the 1990s, debating commodification, neoliberalism, peasant– and social movements, globalization and local responses. Discussing rural encounters at the intersection of agriculture, environment and tourism, the differentiation between rural sociology and new institutional off-shoot was already visible. In the years that followed, recreation and tourism studies (which would become Cultural Geography) and environmental studies (which would become Environmental Policy) were carved out from Wageningen rural sociology.

How the 75th anniversary book will look like we keep as a surprise, but it will look back at our rich and diverse history ánd look forward.


Gemende Bedrijvigheid Een Kwart Eeuw Wageningse Sociologie 1946-1971 Aangeboden aan Prof. Dr. E. W. Hofstee ter gelegenheid van zijn 25-jarig jubileum als Hoogleraar aan de Landbouwhogeschool – G.A. Kooy (ed.)

  1. Een kwart eeuw Wageningse sociologie – G.A. Kooy
  2. Max Weber als agrarisch socioloog – Q. J. Munters
  3. Radicale boeren – A. T. J. Nooij
  4. Productie op contract J. H. de Ru
  5. De ontwikkeling van het aantal landbouwbedrijven in de toekomst – L. J. M. Weerdenburg
  6. Het rural-urban continuum in het licht van sociale veranderingen – J. H. W. Lijfering
  7. De leefbaarheid van plattelandskernen in gemengd agrarisch-recreatieve gebieden – J. P. Groot
  8. Prognoses en planning; openluchtrecreatie in de toekomst – A. P. C. Kerstens
  9. Abortus provocatus en het geboortencijfer – C. de Hoog
  10. Aspekten van anti-conceptie en sexualiteit – C. J. Cramwinckel-Weeda
  11. Ontmythologisering der erotiek (?) G. A. Kooy
  12. Theoretische benaderingswijzen van het gezin vergeleken – L. Th. van Leeuwen
  13. De toekomst beschouwd vanuit Wageningen – W. H. Douma

BIJLAGE: Publicaties Afdeling Sociologie en Sociografie 1946-1971 241

Images and Realities of Rural Life: Wageningen Perspectives on Rural Tranformations by Henk de Haan & Norman Long (editors) 1997

Images and Realities of Rural Life. Introduction – Henk de Haan and Norman Long

Part One: Current Work and New Approaches

  1. Agency and Constraint, Perceptions and Practices. A Theoretical Position- Norman Long
  2. Some Reflections on Anthropology in Development Studies- Jan H.B. den Ouden
  3. On Rurality, Rural Development and Rural Sociology- Jan Douwe van der Ploeg

Part Two: Regulation, Intervention and Social Movements

  1. The Changing Parameters of Social Regulation and Governance in Agriculture – Jaap Frouws
  2. Towards Responsibility. On Development Administrators’ Fantasies and Field-Level Workers’ Anxieties – Pieter de Vries
  3. Modern and Endogenous Development. Civilization and Empowerment – Ad Nooij
  4. Discourse Formation in Social Movements. Issues of Collective Action – Dorothea Hilhorst

Part Three: Local Responses to Globalization and Commoditization

  1. Locality, Identity and the Reshaping of Modernity. An Analysis of Cultural Confrontation in Two Villages – Henk de Haan
  2. Globalization and Food Objects – Alberto Arce
  3. Dynamics of Agricultural Production. An Analysis of Micro-Macro Linkages – Paul Hebinck and Jan Douwe van der Ploeg
  4. Agrarian Change, Neoliberalism and Commoditization. A Perspective on Social Value – Norman Long
  5. Entrepreneurship, Projects and Actor-Networks. Reconceptualizing Small Firms – Gerard Verschoor

Part Four: Rural Encounters: Agriculture, Nature, Tourism and the Environment

  1. Ecological Modernization Theory and Agricultural Reform – Jaap Frouws and Arthur Mol
  2. Claims of Culture. Social Representations of Nature and their Consequences for Agriculture – Chris van Koppen
  3. Sustainable Development of Tourism. A Framework for Discussion and Research – René van der Duim
  4. The Multiple Realities of the Rural Environment. The Significance of Tourist Images for the Countryside – Jaap Lengkeek, Jan Willem te Kloeze and Renze Brouwer


Haan, H. d. and N. Long (eds.) 1997. Images and Realities of Rural Life: Wageningen Perspectives on Rural Tranformations Assen, Van Gorcum.

Kooy, G. E. (ed.) 1971. Gemegnde Bedrijvigheid: kwart eeuw Wageningse sociologie 1946-1971: Aangeboden aan Prof. Dr. E. W. Hofstee ter gelegenheid van zijn  25-jarig jubileum als Hoogleraar aan de Landbouwhogeschool. Wageningen, Veenman &  Zonen NV.