Thesismogelijkheid: Tuinieren voor kankerpatienten

Due to the nature of this thesis, which involves speaking to Dutch former cancer patients, this thesis is only available for Dutch speaking students.

Voor het project Healing Gardens (zie ben ik op zoek naar een student die een thesis wil schrijven bij de leerstoelgroep Rurale Sociologie.

Healing Gardens is een samenwerking van Rurale Sociologie en Humane Voeding. Doel van het project is onderzoeken in hoeverre tuinieren bijdraagt aan de kwaliteit van leven van ex-kankerpatiënten. Tussen april en september 2017 hebben we een pilot onderzoek uitgevoerd, waarbij 6 patiënten hebben getuinierd in Almere. De pilot was onderdeel van onderzoeksprogramma’s van AMS (Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions) en de Flevocampus.

De deelnemers hebben tijdens de pilot aan drie meetronden meegedaan – aan het begin, in het midden en aan het einde. Vanuit Rurale Sociologie hebben we de deelnemers gevraagd naar hun verwachtingen, in hoeverre die uitkwamen, sociale relaties en lotgenotencontact. Ik ben nu op zoek naar een student om deze interviews te analyseren en daar een thesis over te schrijven. Daarnaast kun je zelf extra data verzamelen. Hiervoor zijn meerdere opties, afhankelijk van je eigen interesse. Voorbeelden zijn follow-up interviews met de deelnemers, of interviews met deelnemers van andere lotgenotencontact-groepen, om de verschillen tussen verscheidene vormen van lotgenotencontact te onderzoeken.

De thesis kan vanaf april beginnen. Geïnteresseerd? Stuur een korte motivatie naar

Healing gardens in a video

In an earlier post I talked about our pilot project Healing Gardens, which had just started: six (former) cancer patients were gardening under supervision of two enthusiastic volunteers, at Parkhuys (a cancer support center) in Almere. The aim of the pilot was to prepare for a larger study in which we hope to find out to what extent gardening is a useful way to increase physical activity, stimulate healthy eating patterns, and function as effective social peer support.

This pilot has now ended. It has been successful in the sense that the patients really enjoyed the activity. Almost all of them have taken up gardening at home – two of them have even rented an allotment together. Also, the pilot gave us valuable insights which we will use when starting the lager study: the gardening containers were considered too small by most participants, for instance, and it is extremely important to have access to knowledgeable garden supervisors. Currently we are analyzing our results – during the course of the pilot gardeners were interviewed three times, filled out different questionnaires and participated in various fitness tests. We expect the results early 2018.

One of our project partners, Jan Eelco Jansma, explains the aims of our study in more detail in a video. You can also visit our website for more information: Sorry, both are in Dutch. Healing Gardens is a cooperation between Rural Sociology, Human Nutrition, and applied plant sciences, and supported by the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions and Flevocampus.

Planning for Equitable Urban and Regional Food Systems

There is a new Special Issue of the journal “Built Environment” on the topic of Planning for Equitable Urban and Regional Food Systems.

The Special Issues starts from the question: How does and can planning and design enhance the freedom and wellbeing of marginalized actors in the food system – low-income residents, people of colour, small-holder farmers, and refugees – the very people the alternative food movements purport to serve?

In the Special Issue authors from across the Global North and South explore the role of planning and design in communities’ food systems, while explicitly considering the imbalances in equity, justice, and power.

The collection includes a paper by former Rural Sociology MSc student Maria Vasile and Jessica Duncan.

We want to be part of the broader project’ Family Farmers and Local Food Governance in Porto Alegre, Brazil

Brazil has been praised for the development of its agricultural sector, its policies against hunger, and its support for family farming. Yet, the future of small-scale family farmers remains uncertain. In this paper, we question whether food system localization facilitates the integration of small-scale family farmers into food governance processes in Porto Alegre, Brazil. To answer this, we present the City Region Food System (CRFS) as a conceptual approach to explore the relationship between food systems localization and enhanced participation of small-scale family farmers in food governance. After introducing the case study of local food in Porto Alegre, we highlight key structural inequalities that limit family farmers’ participation in local food practices and influence their involvement in food governance. We then examine linkages between local food policy efforts and family farmers’ praxis, attempting to discern mismatches and related implications for the development of an inclusive CRFS. We argue that systematization of local food practices within the city region represents a double-edged sword as it may
translate into a decrease in farmers’ autonomy and ownership of local initiatives and burden them with regulations not fit for purpose. In conclusion, we suggest that a CRFS approach to planning can help to address structural inequalities and power asymmetries in local food governance only if informed by local dynamics and based on context-sensitive mechanisms for participatory governance incorporating a variety of small-scale family farmers (and other stakeholders).

Discussing about Diverse Economies with prof. Katherine Gibson

On June 27th 2017, the Rural Sociology Group (in collaboration with SUSPLACE and in conjuction with the CSPS Conference ‘The Value of Life’) organised a masterclass on Performative Practices for Diverse Economies with prof. Katherine Gibson (Western Sydney University).

The masterclass was well attended, with more than 25 PhDs, researchers and professors joining, from a diversity of geographical and disciplinary backgrounds.

Prof. Gibson opened the meeting with a short presentation of her work on Diverse Economies. Next, we engaged in dynamic ‘fishbowl’ conversations in which 3 participants at a time discussed about a topic or question of joint interest, with prof.  Gibson stepping in and helping to advance the thinking.

We thus actively ‘performed thinking’ on diverse economies!

00:1927:06 Family Economies & Gender (with Maria Borras Escayola, Shivani Kaul and Zulfa Utami Adiputri)
27:1042:42 Participation, Activation & Motivation (with Veerle Boekenstijn, Esther Veen and Inez Dekker)
43:0058:28 Food Economies, prosumers and community gardens (with Sungwoong Jung, Lucie Sovova and Alberto Serra)

Thanks to MSc student Veerle Boekestijn, both prof. Gibson’s keynote and all the fishbowl conversation have been captured on video. We are happy to share them here, with all those that weren’t able to attend the masterclass in person.


Sharing food and building community through ICT

Group dinner of surplus food at Thuis Wageningen. Photo by Tzu Yuan Su, Taiwan

By Cheron Constance:

June 21 2017 Cheron successfully defended her PhD-thesis What if the trucks stop coming? : exploring the framing of local food by cooperative food retailers in New Mexico

Stone soup an allegorical folktale (with many variations) in which a hungry stranger arrives in a village and persuades the local people to contribute small amounts of ingredients to make a meal collectively. Continue reading

‘A Global Sense of Place’ – register now!

RSO-55306_2017.In period 2, from October 30 till December 22, we’ll be teaching again RSO-55306 A Global  Sense of Place: Place-based approaches to development.  Registration for the course is open until October 1, 2017.

A Global Sense of Place  is an optional interdisciplinary course on sustainable place-based development for students from various master programmes (e.g. MDR, MES, MID, MLP, MUE, MOA, MFN). The course builds on the BSc course RSO-56806 Sociology and Anthropology of Place-shaping providing an introduction to place-based approaches in development. Knowledge of this introductory course is an advantage, but is not assumed. The course aims to make students acquainted with an interdisciplinary and place-based approach to development.

A relational place-based approach is seen as key to the understanding of interrelated rural and urban transformation processes and ergo sustainable development. In a relational approach places are considered as contingent,but in time and space differentiated outcomes of three interrelated interdependent and unbounded transformative processes: political-economic, ecological and social-cultural. Places are time and space specific constructs, like their boundaries and connections.


Shaping resilient places. Source: Roep, D., Wellbrock, W, Horlings, I, 2015. Raising Self-Efficacy and Resilience in the Westerkwartier: The Spin-off from Collaborative Leadership, In: J. McDonagh, B. Nienaber, M. Woods (Eds.), Globalization and Europe’s Rural regions. Ashgate, Surrey, pp.41-58

By means of this course students will achieve profound understanding in key-concepts and methods on place-based sustainable development. Work from key thinkers in sustainable place-making will be critically discussed and examined on the basis of various cases. Guest speakers are invited to reflect on place-based approaches to sustainable development and illustrate these through case studies. Ultimately students will acquire a place-based perspective on development.

Language of instruction and examination is English. Classes are taught on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10.30 -12.30.

Key lecturers: Dr. ir. Joost Jongerden (RSO), Dr. Ir. Dirk Roep (RSO) and Martijn Duineveld (GEO).

For more information, please contact Anke de Vrieze,

Social Capital and Fisheries participation in Marine Spatial Planning in Orkney – MSc-thesis Yanick Bakker

By Yanick Bakker, MSc International Development Studies.

MSc-thesis Social Capital and Fisheries participation in Marine Spatial Planning in Orkney, Scotland (complete thesis can be downloaded).

In the autumn of 2016, I spent three months on the Orkney Islands in Scotland, where I delved into the worlds of inshore shellfish fisheries and marine spatial planning. Marine spatial planning is a relatively new tool for marine governance designed to manage the use of marine space while minimizing user-user and user-environment conflicts. The marine environment around the Orkney Islands is an important natural asset for the island communities. The waters are used for recreation and transportation, they provide fresh sea foods and are a central part of the islands’ ecosystem, identity and diverse livelihoods. Since 2010, the inshore waters around the Orkney Islands and the North East coast of Scotland have also become sites for marine renewable energy developments. Controversy over the allocation of marine space for these developments, have led to the set-up of a pilot marine spatial plan for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters.

Writing this thesis, I was curious to see how fishermen relate to this new way of looking at and giving direction to the development of marine space. As the waters in which they fish and the fish stocks they target are central resources for fisher communities, access to these resources is vital for their survival. Not only do new marine developments create concerns for sustainability, the notion of spatial planning at sea also causes concern for decreased mobility and consumption of space among fishermen. Taking community resilience theory as a starting point, I have focused on the use of community social capital in fisheries’ engagement with marine spatial planning in Orkney.

Social capital refers to practices, values and sets of norms found within different forms of social networks (or communities) which can contribute to the collaboration, functioning and collective action of the network. Social capital can be produced within a community (bonding), between different kinds of communities (bridging) or across scales and hierarchical structures (linking). Community resilience theory assumes that community members can act as agents of change, whereby they use different strategies to ensure the survival of the community in face of change. For example by engaging in social relation within and beyond the boundaries of the community to mobilize resources or gain power.

By conducting qualitative interviews with fishermen, representatives of fisher organizations, researchers and policy makers, I have gained insight in the different ways in which the Orkney inshore shellfish fisher community employs and continues to develop its community social capital in order to collaborate, mobilize resources to generate information to reframe the definition and formal representation of marine space and to gain power in (future) marine spatial planning negotiations.

Although social capital seems to be an enabling factor for participation in policy making, this research has shown that it is not a community asset which can be readily mobilized. Having social capital, does thus not equal having agency to act. Seeing the participatory sphere as one of unequal power, stakeholders’ ability to gain influence in governance processes is influenced by institutional limiting and facilitating factors. Social organization of fishermen in fisher organizations has shown to be an important enabling factor for participation in marine spatial planning, in Orkney.


Reminder – Vacancy Assistant Professor in Food Sociology (tenure track)

At the Rural Sociology Group we have a job opening for an Assistant Professor (tenure track position) in Food Sociology. As assistant professor you will undertake independent research and participate in international research projects focusing on the dynamics of food provisioning practices and processes and on the relations between food provisioning and sustainable rural and urban development. You will also teach and coordinate Bachelor and Master courses for the Bachelor and Master program International Development Studies (specialization Sociology of Development), the Master program Food Technology (specialization Gastronomy), and the Master program Organic Agriculture and supervise Master thesis research for these programs. Other aspects of the job include project acquisition, training and supervision of PhD students and participation in various research and/or education committees. About 45% of your time will be spent on education, 45% on research and the remaining 10% on a variety of activities within and outside the university.

For more information about the position (and the Rural Sociology Group) go to the vacancy page of Wageningen University or contact Prof.dr. Han Wiskerke ( Candidates can apply for this position onlineThe deadline for application is Thursday 14 September 2017.

Thesis: meal sharing in everyday life

Lian Angelino, MSc student Health and Society, wrote her MSc thesis with the Rural Sociology group. In the thesis Lian discusses the sharing economy, in particular meal sharing. She studied a particular meal sharing platform, Thuisafgehaald, looking at the practices of the so-called foodies – people picking up meals cooked by their neighbours. The title of the thesis is ‘Meal sharing in people’s everyday life: An analysis of meal sharing participation from a Social practice theory perspective’.

This is a short abstract of the thesis: The sharing economy has become an increasingly popular phenomenon across society and academia. Engagement in the sharing activities has been previously studied but lacks a focus on the practical aspects of sharing activities in specific segments of the sharing economy. The aim of this study was to explore the practical aspects of meal sharing. Specifically, this research was set out to study the role of meal sharing in people’s everyday life. This was done by both exploring the practical aspects of meal sharing and motivations for participation in meal sharing. Social practice theory, which centres around the reality of everyday life, and how people shape and give meaning to that reality, has been used as theoretical lens to guide data collection and analysis. This study concerned an explorative case-study using semi-structured interviews with users of the platform, a review of social media and participant observations. Overall, it can be concluded that meal sharing plays an instrumental role in people’s everyday life: meal sharing serves a practical solution as one method for food provisioning, amongst other options, to provide an evening meal in a convenient and enjoyable way where ideological motivations do not play a prominent role.

For more information, download the thesis here: Meal sharing in everyday life-Lian Angelino.

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