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. ir. CEP Jansen
Lecturer(s)dr. PGM Hebinck
dr. ir. CEP Jansen
Examiner(s)dr. ir. CEP Jansen
dr. PGM Hebinck

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

RSO-20806 Agricultural and Rural Development: Sociological Perspectives; RSO-21306 Policy, People and Resources in Comparative Perspective; ENP-31806 Globalization and Sustainability of Food Production and Consumption

Continuation courses:

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


The course focuses on agricultural and rural transformation processes and in particular the social relations these transformations processes are embedded in. 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 peasantry debate will be re-examined and it will be questioned whether agricultural and rural development processes are sustained by the emergence of a new kind of peasantry or re-peasantisation. This is linked with the debate on who have to be seen as carriers of agricultural and rural development: peasant-like farmers or entrepreneurial farmers. This in turn relates to political issues like land reform and land grabbing. The course builds upon parts of the following theoretical traditions and perspectives:
a) sociology and anthropology of agriculture and the labour process theory;
b) commoditisation perspective;
c) styles of farming analysis;
d) co-production or co-evolution of social and natural transformation processes

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 agricultural and rural development processes 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 actual issues such as food provisioning and sustainability;
- critically reflect on agricultural and rural transformation processes.


- 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 to a nearby farm;
- self-study.


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


Van der Ploeg, J. D. (2013) Peasants and the art of farming. A Chayanovian manifesto, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishers. Available as e-book via WUR Library:
Other literature will be made available at the Blackboard course site.

Compulsory for: BINInternational Development StudiesBScA: Sociology of Development5AF
Restricted Optional for: MOAOrganic AgricultureMScB: Sustainable Food Systems5AF
MLPLandscape Architecture and PlanningMScB: Spatial Planning5AF