RSO-30806 The Sociology of Farming and Rural Life


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Excursion (one day)4
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)dr. HA Oostindie
dr. PGM Hebinck
Lecturer(s)dr. PGM Hebinck
dr. ir. CEP Jansen
dr. HA Oostindie
Examiner(s)dr. PGM Hebinck
prof. dr. ir. JSC Wiskerke

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

Agriculatural and Rural Development: Sociological Perspectives.

Continuation courses:

Policy, People and Resources, Globalisation and Sustainability of Food Production and Consumption, Sociology in Development: towards a Critical Perspective .


The course focuses on primary production processes in the countryside (mainly, though not exclusively farming) and on the social relations of production in which they are embedded. Emphasis will be on heterogeneity and differential development patterns. The emergence of new notions and forms of rurality is discussed together with new trends towards multifunctionality and the associated rural livelihoods and social networks. The relevance of different types of resources and the associated prospects of endogenous development will be discussed in detail.
From a theoretical point of view, the course builds upon fragments of the following social science traditions and perspectives:
a) the sociology and anthropology of the labour process; b) the commoditisation perspective; c) farming styles analysis and d) social constructivism.
1. This course thus aims to provide insight in the diversity/heterogeneity and complexities of agricultural and rural development processes. Special attention will be paid to: (A) the interrelations between markets and technology and the style of farming; (B) the analysis of how labour processes in agriculture are structured; and (C) the broadening of the rural sector through the examination of pluri-activities.
2. The course provides students with the relevant methodologies to analyse heterogeneity and complexities in constantly changing situations.
3. To examine the relationship between policies and empirical and above all multiple realities. Through this the regional economy will be examined and linked with possibilities for endogenous development. The exploration of endogenous development potentials is an essential contribution to the rural development question.

Learning outcomes:

- to have the analytical skills for the study of agricultural and rural development processes;
- able to position oneself vis-à-vis different theoretical perspectives and positions;
- have the skills for a comparative analysis of agricultural and rural development processes in Europe and South.


- lectures and discussions provides the necessary theoretical and methodological background;
- computer practicals for the analysis of existing data bases;
- particular comparative cases will be explored and linked to theoretical debates and perspectives;
- literature reading through self-study;
- excursions to farms and assignments.


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


Book: will be announced.

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