Governing the multifunctionality of agriculture: Understanding the social and ecological embeddedness of agri-environmental change

Michiel P.M.M. De Krom

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    The concept of ‘multifunctional agriculture’ (MFA) articulates the notion that agriculture should be assessed and valued not only for its contribution to food production, but also to wider socio-economic, environmental, and cultural amenities. Framed in opposition to agro-industrial practices that are largely detached from other rural practices, wider society, and local ecologies, the (potential) contribution of MFA to sustainable rural development through a social and ecological re-embedding of agriculture is an important theme in current rural sociological literature. This paper explores if and how one specific form of MFA – the deliverance of agri-environmental services – contributes to a socio-ecological re-embedding of agriculture, and which governance arrangements such a re-embedding suggests and requires. The paper discusses in-depth case studies of three Flemish (Belgian) agri-environmental schemes, involving regionalised governance arrangements that correspond to three analytically distinct modes to facilitate agricultural re-embedding: (i) devolving governance functions to local/regional levels; (ii) re-connecting places of production with places of consumption through information – e.g. by labelling; and (iii) re-creating producer-consumer relations in situations of co-presence. With the help of qualitative analyses of grey literature and semi-structured interviews with farmers and other stakeholders (governmental agents, food supply chain actors, NGOs, citizen-consumers, non-agricultural companies), the paper discerns to what extent and why the schemes contribute to rural economic, social, and cultural capital. Moreover, the paper reflects on if and how the different governance arrangements enable or constrain rural ecological modernisation by facilitating an internalisation of ecological rationalities in agricultural practices.
    Oorspronkelijke taalEngels
    TitelAbstracts of the Workshop on Embeddedness and Embedding, Polish Sociological Association, University of Gdańsk & Kashubian Institute, Gdańsk, Poland, 14-15 May 2012
    Publicatiedatum2012
    PublicatiestatusGepubliceerd - 2012
    EvenementWorkshop on Embeddedness and Embedding (Gdańsk, Poland) - , België
    Duur: 14-mei-201215-mei-2012

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