75th Anniversary: 34) Open for Registration! Rural Sociology: Past, Present and Future, May 13, 2022

The Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University will celebrate its 75th Anniversary on the 13th of May 2022. Over the 75 years of the Group’s existence, characteristic features of the “Wageningen School” approach in rural sociology have been its comparative research, empirically grounded theoretical development, and a research output renowned for its scientific as well as for its political and practical relevance. At this celebration we will present, discuss, and reflect upon the past, present, and future challenges of rural sociology. We will do that in a lively, interactive setting with debate, workshops, and presentations.

The anniversary celebration will be organized around three thematic clusters:

  • Agrarian and rural development, with special attention to socio-economic dynamics and potentials at farm and regional level;
  • Food provisioning, the socio-spatial organization, and co-ordination of food production and consumption, with special attention to circularity, diverse food economies, and place-based food networks;
  • Urban-rural relations, with special attention to counter-urbanization, urban-rural fluidity, identity, and governance. 

Register here if you want participate in our conference and join our celebration.

More details about the conference program will be published on this website soon!

Rural Sociology: Past, Present and Future is organized at the Akoesticum conference center, Nieuwe Kazernelaan 2D42, 6711 JC Ede, the Netherlands.

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75th Anniversary: 33) “Together” and a rural sociology research agenda

“And we will, together, be.”

No, this is not a mantra from a self-help book for success or therapeutic healing but rather the final sentence in Ece Temelkuran’s new book Together, 10 choices for a better now. The book is a collection of ideas woven into stories that help to think new ways of relating to each other. The book invites the reader to think beyond the individualizing millstones of neoliberalism, which divides by reducing us to a-social transactional entities, and beyond those of the populist right, whose parochial cultural pride separates us into belligerent communities. Spinning and weaving moments and experiences of many kinds, novelist and commentator Ece Temelkuran presents 10 threads through which we can start doing and thinking another future in the here and now. Food for thought for rural sociologists.  

The opening of the book recalls the phrase attributed to Frederic James, that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine a political alternative for the economic and political system causing the world to end. This is what Temelkuran refers to as the magical ability of a status quo to make people believe that if the political and economic system we live in collapses, everything else will collapse with it. Around us we find mesmerizing experts who warn us like fearful ancient sailors that if we dare to sail into uncharted waters, we will fall off the edge of the world, notes Temelkuran. The “build back better” calls for post-pandemic times seem to confirm this atrophied imagination, that there is simply no alternative to the current economic and political system.  

Fast backward. When, in 2001, George W. Bush called Americans to get over the 9/11 trauma, he found no better words than ‘go back shopping’, as Zygmunt Bauman reminded us. Consumption is the medicine. Today, no one has to tell us to go shopping, as the smart and less smart lock-downs are experienced first and foremost as a restriction of our ability to consume, now defined as the primary, sometimes only pillar of ‘freedom’. As the fullness of life has morphed into taking our fill of enjoyment and entertainment we queue to be allowed into Zara, Primark, or Footlocker, performing the entry rituals at disinfection stations. We do not even have to feel the guilt of collaboration with the dictates of consumerism since it has now become our very duty to consume with a larger mission: to save the economy through our marketplace activities and, in so doing, bail out the sinking ship of capitalism.

Ece Temelkuran’s sharp contextual sketch forms the starting point for series of key questions. Can we reshape our existence to survive a world that has transformed itself into a corporation? Can we imagine an economic policy beyond private property, one that renders the accumulation of capital both illegal and immoral? Can we learn to see the world again from an ethical perspective instead of a consumerist one? Yes, we can, she argues; we can reinvent ourselves and the world through even the smallest things, and not just to tranquilize our discomfort. All the small things we are actually already doing in which we address precarity and vulnerability can determine our future. Yet, the reader of this book should expect no recipes or prescriptions. Together offers leads, ideas from which we can start to further explore and give words to new possibilities and other futures.

One such lead is dignity, something our economic and political system not only does not value but also cannot come to terms with since, Temelkuran explains, it has no idea of the good. Another lead is enough, a term that she borrows from the novelist Kurt Vonnegut and which invalidates the contemporary ‘consumer’ identity through which we have learned to conceive ourselves. Yet another lead is faith, which Temelkuran contrasts with hope, or better, I would say, with messianic hope, which i) pacifies (as it puts the expectation of salvation onto others outside ourselves and submits to some higher power), ii) subjugates (since the hope that justice will be done keeps people obedient), and iii) procrastinates (since while hope remains unfulfilled, we are condemned to waiting). What Ece Temelkuran refers to as ‘faith’ could also be characterized as a ‘critical hope’, which is based on doing, questioning, and learning, a hope grounded in (daily) social practices and struggles.

In Together, economic and political morality emerge through the “10 choices” in addressing what Ece Temelkuran refers to as a “housing problem”: the national and international institutions through which we inhabit the world. These are worn out and offer no solutions. The question she raises is that of how to reinvent new ways to inhabit the world, together, to create new institutions based on a moral, political, and economic triangulation. The end of the book, however, also carries a warning: those who work with words have a responsibility to be careful in what they write and say. Mismanaged words have a habit of destroying lives – as the crushing weight of ‘modernization’ narratives in our own field of rural sociology has shown.

For a rural sociology celebrating its 75th anniversary, Together is a timely work. It raises questions about the world, this world, and the relentless economic and political foundations on which its rests. Importantly, this book also opens up an imaginative of possible futures in the now that develop the principles from which they are made in our daily living and social struggles. Thus, Ece Temelkuran has taken her writer’s responsibility seriously, presenting us with carefully selected words that have something important to say, also for the research agendas of our own discipline. 

Ece Temelkuran, 2021. Together, 10 choices for a better now, 4th Estate: London, ISBN 978-0-00-839380-9, 199 pages.

75th Anniversary: 32) 100 PhD graduates

The 75th anniversary of the Rural Sociology Group also marks another milestone: 100 completed and successfully defended PhD theses. The first PhD graduate was Jan Doorenbos, who successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled ‘Opheusden als boomteeltcentrum‘ (Opheusden as tree-growing centre) on 14 June 1950. His PhD study was supervised by Prof. E.W. Hofstee. The 100th PhD graduate was Lucie Sovová, who successfully defended her PhD thesis entitled ‘Grow, share or buy? Understanding the diverse economies of urban gardeners‘ on 13 October 2020. Her PhD study was supervised by Dr. Esther Veen, Dr. Petr Jehlicka and myself. Below the covers of the 1st and 100th PhD thesis.

In this blog about 100 PhD graduates in 75 years Rural Sociology at Wageningen University, I want to present and reflect on some trends related to these 100 PhD graduates. In another forthcoming blog I will present and reflect on some trends related to the content and focus of these 100 PhD theses.

Trend 1: from less than 1 to close to 4 PhD graduates per year

The 100 PhD theses that were completed in the last 75 years are not evenly distributed over the years, as the figure below shows. In the first 50 years 23 PhD theses were completed, meaning that the average number of PhD graduations was below 1 per year (with no PhD graduations at all in the years 1966-1970 and 1986-1990). This increased to approximately 2 per year in the 1996-2005 period and to almost 4 per year in the last 15 years. There are multiple reasons for this. First, until the 1980s having a PhD degree was not that important for an academic career as it is now. When I did my Masters in Wageningen in the late 1980s and early 1990s a large part of the courses I took were taught by assistant, associate and even full professors without a PhD degree. Nowadays, having a PhD degree is a prerequisite for an academic career. Second, in the early 1980s the Dutch government introduced the so-called ‘Two-phase structure’ for university education, with the second phase referring to a 4 year PhD program. The ambition was that 20% of the MSc graduates would continue with a PhD, and as a result universities created more PhD positions (which were then called assistant-in-training or researcher-in-training positions). Alongside, tenured staff without a PhD degree was also encouraged to write a PhD thesis. While these two reasons may explain the increase from the early 1990s onwards, they do not explain the relative high numbers in the last 15 years, with an average of 3 to 4 PhD graduations per year. These figures are a result of: a) the growth of externally funded research projects in which (part of) the research was/is carried out by PhD students; b) the acquisition of specific PhD programs with multiple PhD projects (NWO-WOTRO, INREF, and EU Marie Curie Training Networks); c) the internationalization of our PhD community (more about this below) with a growing number of PhD scholarships funded by NUFFIC and national governments in Asia (mainly China) and Latin-America. In addition, there has been an internal push for more PhD students due to PhD supervision criteria for RSO staff in Tenure Track. And last but not least, the PhD graduation allowance that we get from the national government (currently approximately € 60,000 per PhD graduate) also implies that there is a financial incentive to have a steady and preferable high inflow of PhD students and outflow of PhD graduates.

Trend 2: The average age at which a PhD degree is obtained remains the same (but becomes more diverse)

The average age at which a PhD degree is obtained has remained fairly stable over the past 75 years (just below 40 in 1950 and just above 40 in 2020), but has become more diverse in recent decades (ranging from 27 to 76 years). When making this overview I had actually expected that the average age at PhD graduation would have shown a downward trend as I assumed that the role of the PhD thesis had changed from someone’s life’s work (a middle- to end-career achievement) to a first stepping stone (an early-career achievement) in an academic career. The latter certainly holds true for a large group that obtained their PhD degree at the age of 35 or younger. However, among the PhD graduates of the last 20 years, the PhD degree has also been an important mid-career stepping stone. Many, in particular international, PhD graduates, who got their PhD degree at the age of 40 to 50, have moved up to senior academic or management positions. And throughout the years we’ve had PhD candidates that embarked on their PhD study more towards the end of their career or even after retirement (with two obtaining their PhD degree at the age of 76). For this relatively small group the PhD thesis has remained a life’s work.

Trend 3: From men only to more gender balance

One aspect that has really changed over the past 75 years is the male/female ratio of PhD graduates. In the past 75 years we’ve had twice as many male graduates as female graduates, as the figure below shows.

However, this 2:1 male-female ratio has not been like that over the past 75 years. In the first 55 years the vast majority of PhD graduates were men (32 men versus 2 women), and this changed considerably in the last 20 years (34 men versus 32 women), as the figure below shows. It clearly reflects the changing male-female ratio of BSc and MSc students at Wageningen University (and most likely also at many other universities in and outside the Netherlands). And this also has had an impact on the gender balance within the current academic staff at the Rural Sociology Group.

Trend 4: From mainly Dutch to ‘all over the world’

Over the past 75 years the PhD community at the Rural Sociology Group has really become international. Although there were a few non-Dutch PhD graduates in the early years, in recent years PhD students come from all over the world: other European countries, Latin America, Africa and Asia (see figures below: Europe refers to all European countries excluding the Netherlands). A large number of the PhD projects of these international PhD students are projects jointly supervised with staff members of the Sociology of Development and Change group, which traditionally has a strong network in Latin America and Africa. The former chair of Rural Sociology, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, also has a large international network, in particular in Italy, several Latin American countries and China, and this has clearly contributed to the inflow of PhD students from these parts of the world. The aforementioned growing importance of external research funding and international PhD scholarships has also contributed to the internationalization of our PhD community. I also assumed that the international focus and status of Wageningen University, with all its MSc and part of its BSc programs taught in English, would have contributed to the internationalization of our PhD community. However, hardly any of our international PhD students has an MSc degree from Wageningen University.

In addition to looking at the countries/regions where our PhD graduates come from, I have also made a figure of where they are currently residing/working or where they were residing when they retired. This basically shows that the vast majority of PhD graduates is residing/working in the country/region where they originate from. Some have moved to other countries and a few of the international PhD graduates have stayed in the Netherlands.

Trend 5: From government official to academic/researcher

A last topic related to 100 Rural Sociology PhD graduates I want to present is their current or last (in case of retirement) sector of employment. Is a PhD degree really a stepping stone for an academic or research career or does it result in careers in a variety of sectors? This has been summarized in the figure below, which shows that many of the PhD graduates in the early years continued their career in government. To be fair, many of those PhD graduates actually had a government job and were given the time and space to do their PhD research while keeping their job as government official and continued as a government official after obtaining their PhD degree. Since the 1990s the PhD degree seems to have been favorable for a career in academia/higher education or at a research institute. Many of our international PhD graduates now have tenured positions at foreign universities as assistant, associate or full professor or as senior scientist or senior manager at a research institute. Some are self-employed as advisors/consultants and a few ended up working for a NGO or in the private sector (in or related to agriculture or elsewhere). But as the primary aim of our PhD program is to train PhD students to become independent researchers/academics, it is great to see that so many do indeed succeed in building a career in (academic) research (and higher education).

Does the Arab region have an agrarian question?

In “Does the Arab region have an agrarian question?” Max Ajl argues that the Arab region is not part of broader discussions on the agrarian question and even though the political economy is having a small renaissance in Arab region studies, the leading agrarian publications – Journal of Peasant StudiesAgrarian SouthJournal of Agrarian ChangeAgriculture and Human Values, and Sociologia Ruralis publish lightly on the region.

“Discussion on food sovereignty and agro-ecology, and Anglophone rural sociology have blind spots when it comes to the Middle East/North African (Arab) region. This article explores them; outlines some initial concepts, discusses avenues for research, and notes some socio-political features of the region which make it distinct from others. It focuses on the necessity to include war and the national question to understand the regional agrarian question and advances and retreats in regional knowledge production. It proceeds by (1) establishing the relative absence of the region from the leading peasant studies journals; (2) synthesizing the region’s political economy and waves of knowledge production; (3) highlighting local traditions which speak to the questions of food sovereignty and agro-ecology; and (4) listing a series of theoretical, historical, and analytical avenues which remain to be addressed.”

Read the full article here: Does the Arab region have an agrarian question?: The Journal of Peasant Studies: Vol 0, No 0 (tandfonline.com)

A People’s Green New Deal

The idea of a Green New Deal, a set of proposal to address climate change and its effects, was launched into popular consciousness by US Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in 2018. Evocative of the far-reaching ambitions of its namesake, it has become a watchword in the current era of global climate crisis. But what – and for whom – is the Green New Deal?

In this concise and urgent book, A People’s Green New Deal, RSO postdoc Max Ajl provides an overview of the various mainstream Green New Deals. Critically engaging with their proponents, ideological underpinnings and limitations, he goes on to sketch out a radical alternative: a ‘People’s Green New Deal’ committed to the decommodification of social reproduction, anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and agro-ecology.

Ajl diagnoses the roots of the current socio-ecological crisis as emerging from a world-system dominated by the logics of capitalism and imperialism. Resolving this crisis, he argues, requires nothing less than an infrastructural and agricultural transformation in the Global North, and the industrial convergence between North and South. As the climate crisis deepens and the literature on the subject grows, A People’s Green New Deal contributes a distinctive perspective to the debate.

Order now: A People’s Green New Deal (plutobooks.com)

75th anniversary: 31) A Short History of Wageningen Sociology Book Series

Once upon a time, the Impact Factor was not sovereign in the field of rural sociology, and the inhabitants of the discipline had control over their own means of production. It was a time when the Wageningen sociologists published their “Bulletin”, followed by “Occasional Papers of the Departments of Sociology[i]” and then the “Wageningen Studies in Sociology[ii]”. These book series were an important means for the communication and dissemination of research findings.

The first series, the Bulletin book series, published 40 titles between 1955 and 1980, 36 of which appeared within the first 15 years. The “Occasional Papers” series published 23 titles between 1982 and 1988, followed by 14 titles in the “Wageningen Studies in Sociology” series between 1989 and 1994. This makes a total of 77 book publications over a period of 40 years, covering a range of topics in the field of agrarian and rural studies, planning, recreation studies, and demography. 

The purpose of these book series was to inform professionals and scholars about the research of the Wageningen sociologists. Over time, the audience changed from a Dutch to an English-speaking public. During the period of the first two series, most publications were in Dutch, with rather few in English. In the Bulletin series, just seven of the 40 books were published in English, with most of the English titles published towards the end of the series in the 1970s, while in the Occasional Papers series, five of 23 the books were in English; in the Wageningen Studies series, however, 10 of the 14 were English language publications.

Most of the books were single-authored publications: 30 out of 40 in the Bulletin series and 24 from 37 in the combined Occasional Papers and Wageningen Studies series. Almost all the books were written or edited by Wageningen sociologists. Most were staff publications, though the series included a few Ph.D. theses. The final publication of the three series comprised the proceedings of the 16th European Congress of Rural Sociology, which was held in Wageningen in the early days of August 1993 under the title “Agricultural Change, Rural Society, and the State.”

Although the book series ended in 1994, the Wageningen sociologists did not rest. Between 2007 and 2020, Wageningen rural sociologists published a total of 2,641 articles, book chapters, reports, and dissertations, predominantly with international scientific publishers. Among the most used English language journals were Sociologia Ruralis (which Wageningen sociologists co-founded), the Journal of Rural Studies and the Journal of Peasant Studies. Wageningen sociologists continued to publish in Dutch too, among others in the critical agrarian studies journal Spil (1978–2012) and Landbouwkundig Tijdschrift, the journal of the Royal Society for Agricultural Sciences. Ideas to (re-)establish again our own vehicle for scientific publications are occasionally discussed but not (yet) followed up.   

Books published in the Bulletin series

1.Sociologische aspecten van de landbouwvoorlichting

E.W. Hofstee, 1953

2.Boer en standsorganisatie, een regionaal-quantitatieve analyse

E. Abma 1955

3.De beoefening van de bloemsiterij en groenteteelt te Beesd

A.J. Wichers, 1956

4. Boer en coöperatie in Nederland, deel 1, de coöperatieve gezindheid 

E. Abma 1956

5. Enkele kenmerken en eigenschappen van de vooruitstrevende boeren I

A.W. van den Ban, 1956

6. Boeren en landbouwonderwijs, de landbouwkundige ontwikkelingen van de Nederlandse boeren

A.W. van den Ban, 1957

7. Onderzoek naar de activiteiten van de leden van de Gelderse Maatschappij van Landbouw

J.D. Dorgelo 1975

8. Verdwijnende dorpen op het Groninger Hogeland

N.A. Tonckens en E. Abma, 1957

9. Regionale verschillende in de toepassing van enkele landbouwmethoden

A.W. van den Ban, 1958

10. Enkele kenmerken en eigenschappen van de vooruitstrevende boeren II

A.W. van den Ban, 1958

11. De evaluatie van een voorlichtingsmethode in de Betuwe

A.J. Wichers 1958

12. . Boer en coöperatie in Nederland, deel 2, coöperatieve en niet coöperatieve boeren

E. Abma 1958

13. Voorkeuren voor voorlichting

A.J. Wichers 1959

14. Omvang van de agrarische beroepsbevolking in de 20ste eeuw

J.H.W. Lijfering

15. Het gardeniersprobleem in de kleibouwstreek van Friesland

S. van Veen en A.J. Wichers, 1959

16. Woning, dorp en dorpsgemeenschap in de Noordoostpolder

E. Abma en J.E. Montgomery, 1959

17. De leesbaarheid van landbouwbladen

W.H. Douma 1960

18. Fundamenteel sociologisch speurwerk in het kader van het landbouwwetenschappelijk onderzoek

E.W. Hofstee, 1960

19. De vormgeving van voorlichtingsdrukwerk

J.W. Schellekens en A.J. Wichers, 1960

20. Het gezinsleven op een verstedelijkend platteland

W.H. Douma, 1961

21. De echtscheiding in het agrarisch milieu

G.A. Kooy en J.H.H. Hasenack, 1961

22. De houding tegenover ruilverkaveling in het land van Heusden en Altena en de Tielerwaard-West 

J.P. Groot, F.C. Prillevitz, Th. J. Rinsma, G.A. Sparenburg, 1962

23. De vrije tuinbouwvestiging op nieuwe gronden in het Westland en De Kring

U. Geling en J.P. Groot

24. Boeren en toekomstbeeld, enkele beschouwingen naar aanleiding van een terreinverkenning in de Noordoostpolder

A.K. Constandse, 1964

25. De houding van de boeren in Bergeyk tegenover de landbouwvoorlichting

J.G.M. Helder, 1964

26. Economic knowledge and comprehension in a Netherlands farming community

H.H. Felstehausen, 1965

27. Wageningse eerstejaars studenten deel 1, enkele achtergronden van de studiekeuze

E. Abma, 1967

28. Enforced marriage in the Netherlands, a statistical analysis in order to test some hypotheses

G.A. Kooy and M. Keuls, 1968

29. Wageningse eerstejaars studenten deel 2, slagen of zakken voor het propedeutisch examen

E. Abma, 1968

30. De sociale gevolgen van de mechanisatie van de landbouw

A.J. Jansen, 1968

31. De sociale betekenis van het kamperen

A.P.C. Kersten, 1968

32. De leefbaarheid van de dorpen in de gemeente Borger

J.P. Groot, 1969

33. Het gezinsbeeld bijde Nederlandse politieke partijen

S.I, Zwart, 1969

34. Evaluatie van de tuinbouwvoorlichting in het Westland en De Kring

J. Visser, 1969

35. Sociaal-economische differentiatie in de landbouw

L.J.M. Weerdenburg, 1970

36. The guiding image and rural physical planning

J.P. Groot and D.B.W.M. van Dusseldorp, 1970

37. Extension and the forgotten farmer

J. Ascroft, N. Röling, J. Kariuki, F. Chege, 1973

38. Constructing tomorrow’s agriculture

A.J. Jansen, 1975

39. Original and derived creativity in scientific thinking

B. van Norren, 1976

40. De role of farmers’ organizations in two paddy farming areas in West-Malaysia

J.R.V Daana, 1980

Books published in the series Occasional Papers of the Departments of Sociology (1982-1988 ) and Wageningen Studies in Sociology (1989-1994). Editors: Anton Jansen, Berry Lekanne dit Deprez en Rien Munters.

1.Differentiële sociologie in kort bestek. Schets van de differentiële sociologie en haar functie in het concrete sociaal-wetenschappelijk onderzoek   

E. W. Hofstee. 1982, 54 biz., ing., (nr. I)

2.Migratie uit de steden. Een literatuurstudie   

Lily Harm. 1982, 82 biz., ing. (nr. 2)

3.Man and manihot. Vol. I: Case studies on cassava cultivators   

L. Box and F. Doorman. 1982, 185 biz., ing., (nr. 3)

4.Over vriendschap. Verslag van een hypothesenvormend sociologisch onderzoek naar een bijzondere betrekking tussen mensen   

G. A. Kooy. 1982, 130 biz., ing., (nr. 4)

5.Man and manihot. Vol. II: An annotated bibliography on cassava cultivation and processing among

Amerindians   

B. de la Rive Box-Lasocki. 1982, 170 biz., ing., (nr. 5)

6.Van huwelijk tot echtscheiding; een regenboog van ervaringen   

Iteke Weeda. 1983, 502 biz., ing. (nr. 6)

7.Rekreatiegedrag en ekonomische crisis   

Henk de Jong. 1983, 154 biz., ing. (nr. 7)

8.Planning voor vrijheid. Een historisch-sociologische studie van de overheidsinterventie in rekreatie en vrije tijd   

Theo Beckers. 1983, 456 biz., ing., (nr. 8)

9.Volksonderwijs in de Welingerigte Maatschappij. Een inhoudsanalyse van prijsverhandelingen van de Maatschappij tot Nut van ‘t Algemeen   

Dick van der Wouw en Jo Louvenberg. 1982, I 35 biz., ing., (nr. 9)

10.Over de welzijnstaal. Een onderzoek naar de psy-normering   

Ernst Meijer. 1983, 95 biz., ing., (nr. 10)

11.Paddy farmers, irrigation and agricultural services in Malaysia. A case study in the Kemubu Scheme

G. Kalshoven, J. R. V. Daane, L. J. Fredericks, F. van der Steen van Ommeren and A. van Tilburg. 1984,

205 pp., paperback, (nr. I I), ISBN 90-6754-055-2

12.De woongroep verlaten. Een verkennend sociologisch onderzoek naar uittreding uit woongroepen na conflicten   

Adri Bolt. 1984, 111 pp., paperback, (nr. 12), ISBN 90-6754-056-0

13.Huwelijkswelslagen in Nederland. Een vergelijking tussen 1967 en 1983   

G. A. Kooy. 1984, 164 pp., paperback, (nr. 13), ISBN 90-6754-057-9

14.Anthony Giddens. Een kennismaking met de structuratietheorie

Q. J. Munters, Ernst Meijer, Hans Mommaas, Hugo van der Poel, René Rosendal en Gert Spaargaren.

1985, 137 pp., paperback, (nr. 14), ISBN 90-6754-061-7

15.Handelen, Handelingscontext en Planning. Een theoretisch-sociologische verkenning

Fer Kleefmann. 1985, 371 pp., paperback, (nr. 15), ISBN 90-6754-062-5

16.Irrigation and social organization in West Malaysia

H. J. Hoogstraten. 1985, 148 pp., paperback, (nr. 16), ISBN 90-6754-067-6

17.The commoditization debate: labour process, strategy and social network

Norman Long, Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Chris Curtin and Louk Box. 1986, 123 pp., paperback,

(nr. 17), ISBN 90-6754-087-0

18.Rood en Zwart: Bedrijfsstrategieën en kennismodellen in de Nederlandse melkveehouderij

Benjo Maso. 1986, 135 pp., paperback, (nr. 18), ISBN 90-6754-094-3

19.Benaderingen van organisaties vergeleken. Een kritische bespreking van theorievorming over de relatie tussen strategie en structuur van organisaties

Henk ten Holt. 1987, I 15 pp., paperback, (nr. 19), ISBN 90-6754-098-6

20.Landbouw, landbouwwetenschap en samenleving. Filosofische opstellen

H. Koningsveld, J. Mertens, S. Lijmbach en J. Schakel. 1987, 200 pp., paperback, (nr. 20), ISBN 90-6754-1 15-X

21.De verwetenschappelijking van de landbouwbeoefening

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg. 1987, 344 pp., paperback, (nr. 21), ISBN 90-6754-120-6

22.Automatisering in land- en tuinbouw. Een agrarisch-sociologische analyse

Jaap Frouws en Jan Douwe van der Ploeg. 1988, xvii +110 pp., paperback, (nr. 22), ISBN 90-6754-123-0

23.Illegale recreatie. Nederlandse radiopiraten en hun publiek

J. H. W. Lijfering. 1988, 128 pp., paperback, (nr. 23), ISBN 90-6754-128-1

24.De boer als buitenstaander? Sociologische studies over marginalisering en integratie

A. T. J. Nooij, R. E. van Broekhuizen, H. J. de Haan, Q. J. Munters en K. Verrips. 1989, vi + 118 pp., paperback, (nr. 24), ISBN 90-6754-134-6

25.Organization and participation in Southeast Asian irrigation systems

Geert Kaishoven, Nenita E. Tapay and Aart Schrevel. 1989, vii + 118 pp., paperback, (nr. 25), ISBN 90-6754-136-2

26.Marginalization misunderstood. Different patterns of farm development in the West of Ireland

Chris Leeuwis, 1989. xiv + 131 pp., paperback, (nr. 26), ISBN 90-6754-146-X

27.Encounters at the interface. A perspective on social discontinuities in rural development

Norman Long, editor. 1989. viii + 276 pp., paperback, (nr. 27), ISBN 90-6754-148-6

28.From common ignorance to shared knowledge. Knowledge networks in the Atlantic Zone of Costa Rica

Louk Box, editor. 1990. viii + 80 pp., paperback, (nr. 28), ISBN 90-6754-178-8

29.Geschriften over landbouw, structuur en technologie.

Bruno Benvenuti; ingeleid, bewerkt en vertaald door Jan Douwe van der Ploeg. 1991, v + 140 pp., paperback, (nr. 29), ISBN 90-6754-188-5

30.Sociologists in agricultural research. Findings of two research projects in the Dominican Republic and the Philippines

Louk Box and Dirk van Dusseldorp. 1992, viii + 66 pp., paperback (nr. 30), ISBN 90-6754-215-6

31.Adept at adapting. Contributions of sociology to agricultural research for small farmers in developing countries: the case of rice in the Dominican Republic

Frans Doorman. 1991, xxiii + 198 pp., paperback, (nr. 31), ISBN 90-6754-189-3

32.Toegepaste filosofie in praktijk.

Bart Gremmen and Susanne Lijmbach (red.). 1991, xii + 202 pp., paperback (nr. 32), ISBN 90-6754-201-6

33.Law as a resource in agrarian struggles.

F. von Benda-Beckmann and M. van der Velde, Editors. 1992, viii + 319 pp., paperback, (nr. 33), ISBN 90-6754-202-4.

34.Negotiating agricultural development. Entanglements of bureaucrats and rural producers in Western Mexico.

Alberto Arce. 1993. xiv + 187 pp., paperback, (nr. 34), ISBN 90-6754-283-0.

35.Milieubeleid onder dak? Beleidsvoeringsprocessen in het Nederlandse milieubeleid in de periode 1970-1990; nader uitgewerkt voor de Gelderse Vallei (PhD thesis).

Jan van Tatenhove. 1993, 3 16 pp., paperback, (nr. 35), ISBN 90-6754-306-3.

36.Of computers, myths and modelling. The social construction of diversity, knowledge information and communication technologies in Dutch horticulture and agricultural extension (PhD thesis).

Cees Leeuwis. 1993, xii + 468 pp., paperback, (nr. 36), ISBN 90-6754-308-X

37.Agricultural restructuring and rural change in Europe

David Symes and Anton J. Jansen (eds.),236pp. (nr. 37), ISBN 90-6754-372-1


[i] In Dutch “Mededelingen van de vakgroepen voor sociologie”.

[ii] In Dutch “Wageningen Sociologische Studies”.

Green Care practices and place-based sustainability transformations: a participatory action-oriented study in Finland – PhD-thesis by Angela Moriggi

June 1 2021, at 11.00 am (CET) Angela Moriggi will defend her PhD-thesis ‘Green Care practices and place-based sustainability transformations: A participatory action-oriented study in Finland‘. See the Abstract below. The full thesis can be downloaded from the WUR Library after the defense ceremony, or by clicking its DOI.

The ceremony will be live-streamed by Weblectures.wur.nl, but is recorded and can be viewed later as well. Angela Moriggi was appointed as research fellow at the EU funded MSCA ITN project SUSPLACE, employed by the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE) and PhD-candidate at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. Since April 2021 she holds a position as research fellow at the Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture, and Forestry (TESAF) of the University of Padova.

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75th anniversary: 30) Engaged scholarship: Why the UN Food System Summit has failed to engaged civil society

The majority of this blog post, written by Jessica Duncan and Priscilla Claeys, was originally posted on the Agroecology Now! Blog as Failure to Engage: Civil Society Marginalized in UN Food Summit

If sociology can be broadly defined as the study of social life, social change and consequences, it should not be surprising that many sociologists have played, and continue to play, an active role in processes dedicated to social change.

There are indeed threads of advocacy and social change that weave their way through RSO’s history up to the present. Some work is explicitly radical, aligned with movements and working to support alternative visions of the world. Others engage in more subtle ways, seeking to promote change ‘from within,’ using their research and credentials to push for more just and sustainable futures. Others still research and engage in micro and/or individual actions with a view towards existing otherwise.

These dynamics correspond to a long history of engaged scholarship that has been, and continues to be, appreciated by academics, practitioners, civil society and movement actors, as well as our students.

It is in this spirit that we share this blog reflecting on the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit and explain why so many civil society organizations and academics are boycotting it. The implications are significant for rural people around the world and the event itself demands critical sociological analysis.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

In 2015 the United Nations General Assembly agreed to a 15 year action plan for sustainable development. The result was a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The second sustainable development goal related to zero hunger. In 2020, to accelerate action around the goals, the UN launched a decade of action. However, the world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. And instead of seeing reductions in hunger, we have seen increases, even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recognizing the urgent need for food system change and action, UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared that the UN will convene a Food Systems Summit in 2021 as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development.

The Summit claims it will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems, noting that we can build a just and resilient world where no one is left behind.

However, many concerns have been raised about the approach the Summit has taken. Issues have been raised about high-level of corporate influence; lack of grounding in human rights; the lack of  a truly transformative vision. Another major concern relates to the undermining of democratic institutions and inclusive multilateralism. This is reinforced by a failure of the FSS to build on the legacy of past World Food Summits.

Source: CSM4CFS twitter

Why this matters: participation and historical context

The UN Food Systems Summit has sought to develop a participatory process involving global, national and individual dialogues, but the process has lacked transparency, while bypassing existing processes and ignoring power relations.

It is widely recognized that to address the complexity of our food system challenges, those most affected and those already implementing solutions need to be central actors throughout the entire process. Over the last three decades, the UN has opened spaces for participatory engagement. The UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is a functioning example of a multi-level, highly inclusive participatory process that has been developing comprehensive policy outputs to support food systems change over the last 10 years. It brings together states, civil society, the private sector, philanthropic donors, researchers and other UN agencies and is supported by an independent panel of experts.

But the CFS was initially not even invited to the table. It was only added to the Summit’s Advisory Committee only in November 2020.

Ignored history of engagement – CSM as a solution

When it comes to the CFS, there is an explicit commitment to prioritize the voices of those most affected by food insecurity. One way this is done is through the inclusion of civil society actors as full participants. BUT, how does civil society engage in CFS debates in practice?

The answer comes from a long history of trial, error and struggle that led to the establishment of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM). The CSM is self-organized and autonomous, and has developed sophisticated governance mechanisms that ensure and facilitate grassroots participation. It is made up of participating organizations from 11 constituencies: smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, agricultural and food workers, landless, women, youth, consumers, urban food insecure and NGOs. Each constituency represents people who share a collective identity. At the same time, the CSM facilitates the participation of organizations from 17 sub-regions, to capture regional differences.

How does the CSM work?

Through its unique mechanisms and processes, the CSM manages to respect, foster, and give voice to this diversity of identities and experiences.  At the same time, it helps the CSM constituencies articulate joint positions, so as to have more weight in CFS negotiations. This is quite an achievement considering that participating organizations, particularly those who organize small-scale food producers and consumers, have more than 300 million affiliated members from all continents. These are the most important contributors to food security and nutrition worldwide.

Source: CSM4CFS

The CSM also uses a quota system to ensure gender equity as well as a balance of generations and regions, enhancing diversity.

The CSM and the CFS are not perfect. Yet they represent an innovative and well-tested mechanism for participatory policy making that gives priority to the organizations and social movements representing the people who are most affected by hunger and malnutrition, recognizing that they are the organizations of the rights-holders that are the subjects of their own development.

It is often claimed that the CFS is ineffective and takes too long to make decisions. This is mistaken. The CFS, while highly under-resourced, has consistently developed high-quality policy recommendations. These recommendations are legitimate because they are the outcome of intergovernmental negotiations and benefit from the inputs of a diversity of actors, including the private sector. This is necessarily a messy process that requires time and debate. The CFS has put human rights at the core of food systems. Human rights are at the heart of these recommendations, building on existing international norms, with attached accountability mechanisms.

In contrast, the UN Food Systems Summit has not been designed as a governance space where true debates will take place and where valuable solutions will emerge through meaningful and inclusive dialogue. This is because of how the agenda was developed, who developed it and how participation has been organized. In addition, the UNFSS is a one-off event with no institutional follow-up capacity, while the CFS, with its decades of experience, is the natural place for long term dialogue.

Who will decide the future of food, and how?

For more information and to read the research that informs this content, check out:

Duncan, J. and Claeys, P. (2018). Politicizing food security governance through participation: opportunities and opposition. Food Security, 10, 6, 1411–1424.

Claeys, P. and Duncan, J. (2019). Do we need to categorize it? Reflections on constituencies and quotas as tools for negotiating difference in the global food sovereignty convergence space. Journal of Peasant Studies. 46(7).

Claeys, P. and Duncan, J. (2019). Food sovereignty and convergence spaces. Political Geography. 75, 102045.

75th anniversary: 29) Watch or re-watch the recorded lectures in our RSO 75 Years Anniversary Seminar Series

We kicked-off our seminar series ‘Looking back, Looking Forward: Setting a future agenda for rural sociology’ as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of Rural Sociology. The seminars lead-up to our grand anniversary celebration on May 13, 2022. For this anniversary seminar series we have invited a range of highly interesting scholars active in diverse fields closely linked to rural sociology and engaging with research themes, questions, approaches, and concepts relevant for the research agenda of rural sociology. The seminars engage with current work of the speaker as well as the context of past debates and future issues for rural sociology. You can watch the past two seminars on our YouTube channel. See here the announcement for our next seminar (May 19) on migrant labour in agriculture. Webinar: Migrant labour in agriculture | Rural Sociology Wageningen University

Lecture 1: ‘Farming Inside Invisible Worlds: Political ontologies of modernist agriculture’:         

Hugh Campbell, University of Otago, New Zealand

Date: 3d February 2021

This talk examines the way in which an explicit focus on colonisation can open up new ways to understand the power of modernist farms. Using the example of colonisation in Aotearoa New Zealand, farms are revealed as agents of ontological politics: both being created by the colonisation of indigenous worlds in many parts of the globe, but then also becoming agents that enacted a new, ‘scientific’, pacified, and highly ontologically-bounded modernist world. The outcome is a very specific kind of highly-empowered modernist/capitalist farming, locked into ‘farming inside invisible worlds’. The story of farming in Aotearoa New Zealand from colonisation to the present day reveals both the enormous colonising powers of modernist/capitalist farming, but also the inevitable fractures, overflows and contests that signal its inevitable demise.

Lecture 2: ‘Towards a Gaian agriculture’

Anna Krzywoszynska, University of Sheffield, UK

Date: 28th April 2021

This talk is concerned with the role for agri environmental social sciences in understanding the new human condition called by some “the Anthropocene”, and what I increasingly think of as the challenge of living with Gaia How have we become so lost that our most fundamental relationship with the environment, food getting, has come to undermine both our futures and those of our environments? And what is needed to build a new pact between humans and living ecosystems? I have been exploring these questions specifically in relation to soil as an existentially and conceptually crucial matter In this paper, I examine modern farming as built on multiple alienations, and propose the conditions under which re connection and a building agricultures which work with Gaia may become possible.

Webinar: Migrant labour in agriculture

In the Webinar 3 of our 75th Anniversary Rural Sociology Series we are pleased to present two presentations addressing the research theme ‘migrant labour in agriculture’.

Deniz Duruiz, Northwestern University:
Kurdishness, Race-Making, and Political Subjectivity on Turkish Farms

Seth Holmes, UC Berkeley:
The Extended Time and Space of Migrant Farmworker Injury: Indigenous Mexican Farmworkers in the USA

Date: Wednesday 19th May 2021 – Time: 15:00-17:00 (CET)

Register online via this link
Or check out the YouTube streaming link

YouTube streaming: