Within policy and academic circles, conceptions of agricultural innovation have moved towards a more ‘relational’ approach in favor of an allegedly more ‘linear’ perspective. According to this move, innovation is considered a co-evolutionary learning process in which stakeholders co-create knowledge. Rather than a passive recipient of incentives to innovate, the farmer is considered an active partner within innovation processes. These collaborative aspirations are often translated in broad visions on innovation that are defined by public administrators and sectorial representatives at the local, national and European level. Most often these intentions formulate innovation as an intrinsic ‘good’ by framing it in a discourse which describes economic growth as a challenge and socio-ecological issues as opportunities, as exemplified in initiatives such as the European horizon 2020 strategy. In this article we adopt a ‘reconstructive’ perspective with the aim to gain insight into how farmers themselves interpret the concept of innovation. We conducted in depth interviews with 20 respondents, including farmers working within a vertically integrated sector (intensive pig farming) and farmers who work in more horizontally organized food networks (mainly organic farmers). Analyses of four focus groups with these groups of farmers, and document analyses served to triangulate our data. With the help of a discourse analysis we have analyzed our data, on the basis of which we have discerned three different farmer perspectives (‘innovation by demand’, ‘(un)concerned exploration’ and ‘adoption as usual’). In our approach we adopt Dryzek’s perspective on discursive representation aiming to give way to less formalized farmer’s discourses. The analysis warrants a questioning of whether agricultural innovation is ‘good’ in and of itself, and invites a more contextualized perspective on the role that farmers think that they play within collaborative innovation processes. We end the paper by reflecting on the contribution of our analysis to democratic theory. We discuss the importance of including critical and empirical inquiries concerning the role of farmers in governing agrofood systems. On a more general level our discussion implies the need to re-invigorate the long lost debate on industrial democracy and calls for i!n a consideration of its ramifications outside of the agricultural sphere.
|Titel||Proceedings RUC Sunrise Conference|
|Status||Gepubliceerd - 31-okt-2013|
|Evenement||Sunrise Conference - Roskilde, Denemarken|
Duur: 28-aug-2013 → 31-okt-2013