Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 35–48 | Cite as

Agents' perceptions of structure: How Illinois organic farmers view political, economic, social, and ecological factors

  • Leslie A. Duram


Various structural factors influenceorganic farmer decision-making. Analyses that combinestructure and agency provide an opportunity forunderstanding farmers' perceptions of the political,economic, and social ``world'' in which they operate.Rich conversational interviews, conducted with twentycertified organic farmers in Illinois and analyzedwith multiple qualitative methods, show how farmersmediate structural concerns. In addition to political,economic, and social structures, a fourth structure isneeded. Indeed these organic farmers emphasize theimportance of ecological factors in theirdecision-making. Within the perceived economic,political, social, and ecological structures, numeroustopics (i.e., marketing, policy, family, ecosystems)and subtopics (i.e., diversification, farm programs,traditions, soils) exist. Farmers' quotations providedetailed information of how they view and mediatestructures in their daily on-farm decision-making.

Agency Alternative agriculture Farmer decision-making Organic farming Perception Structures (economic, political, social, ecological) 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leslie A. Duram
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographySouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA

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