RSO-30806 The Sociology of Farming and Rural Life


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Excursion (one day)4
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. CEP Jansen
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. CEP Jansen
dr. ML Schneider
Examiner(s)dr. ir. CEP Jansen

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Students are expected to have basic knowledge on social theory and development theory, e.g. as taught in the following courses: RSO-20806 Agricultural and Rural Development: Sociological Perspectives; RSO-21306 Political Sociology for Development; ENP-31806 Globalization and Sustainability of Food Production and Consumption or equivalent background. Students without this prerequisite knowledge are requested to contact the course coordinator to discuss possibilities for filling this gap.

Continuation courses:

YSS-82812 BSc Thesis Sociology of Development; RSO-34306 Theorizing Development: Implications for Research


Agricultural and rural transformation processes play an enabling or constraining role in addressing societal problems of hunger and poverty, environmental sustainability, and realizing a human-friendly mode of production. This course develops a sociological perspective on modernization tendencies, labour-agribusiness relationships, labour and household dynamics, land reform and land grabbing, the politics of high risk technologies (e.g. pesticides), and social justice views of agrarian movements. The course examines to what extent farming and rural life are shaped by markets, technology and cultural repertoires as well as by natural processes. This will enhance a critical understanding of the heterogeneity of farming and rural life and differential patterns of agricultural and rural development. For this purpose the relevance of the peasantry debate for development thinking will be re-examined.
The course builds upon parts of the following theoretical traditions and perspectives:
a) sociology and anthropology of agriculture and the labour process theory;
b) commoditization perspective;
c) styles of farming analysis;
d) co-production or co-evolution of social and natural transformation processes;
e) theories of agrarian movements

The course is structured around the key questions in contemporary debates within critical agrarian studies.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- apply analytical skills to explore differential patterns of agricultural and rural development;
- understand the key questions for studying agrarian change from a comparative perspective;
- distinguish different theoretical positions with regard to agricultural and rural development;
- evaluate the political implications of these academic positions with regard to current issues such as food provisioning
and sustainability;
- critically reflect on agricultural and rural transformation processes;
- read and understand publications in the five key agrarian sociology journals


- lectures and tutorials providing an empirical, theoretical and methodological background;
- practicals to practice the analysis of data bases in groups and write a concise report on the findings;
- excursion with assignment;
- self-study; including the formulation of questions about the literature.


- group assignment (30%);
- written exam with open questions (70%). To pass the written exam requires a minimum mark of 5.50.

- satisfactory participation in formulating and discussing questions about the literature (no mark, but requirement to pass the course)


Literature will be made available via the electronic course site.

Compulsory for: BINInternational Development StudiesBScA: Sociology of Development5AF
Restricted Optional for: MOAOrganic AgricultureMScB: Sustainable Food Systems5AF