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
Article

Abstract

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) 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abbott, A. (1992). “What do cases do?” In C. Ragin and H.Becker (eds.), What Is a Case? Exploring the Foundation of Social Inquiry(pp. 53-82). New York: Cambridge University.Google Scholar
  2. Agar, M. (1980). The Professional Stranger: An Informal Introduction to Ethnography. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  3. Beus, C. and R. Dunlap (1991). “Measuring adherence to alter-native vs. conventional agricultural paradigms: A proposed scale.” Rural Sociology56: 432-466.Google Scholar
  4. Bogdan, R. and S. Biklen (1992). Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theory and Methods(2nd edn.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  5. Buck, D., C. Getz, and J. Guthman (1997). “From farm to table: The organic vegetable commodity chain of Northern California.” Sociologia Ruralis37: 3-20.Google Scholar
  6. Bultena, G. and E. Hoiberg (1986). “Sources of information and technical assistance for farmers in controlling soil erosion.” In S. Lovejoy and T. Napier (eds.), Conserving Soil: Insights from Socioeconomic Research(pp. 71-82). Ankeny, Iowa: Soil Conservation Society of America.Google Scholar
  7. Byrne, P., J. Bacon, and U. Toensmeyer (1994). “Pesticide residue concerns and shopping location likelihood.” Agribusi-ness10: 491-501.Google Scholar
  8. Curry-Roper, J. (1997). “Community-level worldviews and the sustainability of agriculture.” In B. Ilbery, Q. Chiotti, and T.Rickard (eds.), Agricultural Restructuring and Sustainability: A Geographical Perspective(pp. 101-115). Wallingford, UK: CAB International.Google Scholar
  9. Dunn, J. (1995). Organic Food and Fiber: An Analysis of 1994 Certified Production in the United States. Washington, DC: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.Google Scholar
  10. Duram, L. (1997). “A pragmatic study of conventional and alter-native farmers in Colorado.” Professional Geographer49: 202-213.Google Scholar
  11. Duram, L. (1998). “Organic agriculture in the United States: Current status and future regulation.” Choices: the Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues2: 34-38.Google Scholar
  12. EPA 1998 (1996). Water Quality Report to Congress. Website: http://www.epa.gov/305b/.Google Scholar
  13. Friedmann, H. (1986). “Patriarchal commodity production.” Social Analysis10: 185-192.Google Scholar
  14. Giddens, A. (1979). Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure and Contradictions in Social Analysis.Berkeley: University of California.Google Scholar
  15. Gold, J. R. (1980). An Introduction to Behavioural Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Golledge, R. G., L. A. Brown, and H. Williamson (1972). “Behavioural approaches in geography: An overview.” Australian Geographer12: 59-79.Google Scholar
  17. Guthman, J. (1998). “Regulating meaning, appropriating nature: The codification of California organic agriculture.” Antipode30: 135-154.Google Scholar
  18. Johnston, R. J. (1980). City and Society: An Outline of Urban Geography. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  19. Kates, R. (1962). “Hazard and choice perception in flood plain management.” University of Chicago, Department Research Paper 78. Chicago: University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  20. Korsching, P. and T. Hoban (1990). “Relationships between information sources and farmers' conservation perceptions and behavior.” Society and Natural Resources3: 1-10.Google Scholar
  21. Lockeretz, W. (1995). “Organic farming in Massachusetts: An alternative approach to agriculture in an urbanized State.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation50: 663-667.Google Scholar
  22. Lockeretz, W. (1997). “Diversity of personal and enterprise characteristics among organic growers in the Northeastern United States.” Biological Agriculture and Horticulture14: 13-24.Google Scholar
  23. Lockeretz, W. and P. Madden (1987). “Midwestern organic farming: A ten-year follow-up.” American Journal of Alter-native Agriculture2: 57-63.Google Scholar
  24. Lowe, P., T. Marsden, and S. Whatmore (1994). Regulating Agriculture. London: David Fulton.Google Scholar
  25. Marsden, T. (1991). “Theoretical issues in the continuity of petty commodity production.” In S. Whatmore, P. Lowe, and T. Marsden (eds.), Rural Enterprise: Shifting Perspectives on Small-Scale Production(pp. 12-33). London: David Fulton.Google Scholar
  26. Merrigan, K. (1993). “National policy options and strategies to encourage sustainable agriculture: Lessons from the 1990 farm bill.” American Journal of Alternative Agriculture8: 158-160.Google Scholar
  27. Miles, M. and A. Huberman (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.Google Scholar
  28. Mooney, P. (1986). “My Own Boss?”Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  29. Natural Foods Merchandiser (1997). Organic Sales. Boulder, Colorado: New Hope Communications.Google Scholar
  30. NRC (National Research Council) (1989). Alternative Agricul-ture. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  31. Padgitt, S. and P. Petrzelka (1994). “Making sustainable agri-culture the new conventional agriculture: Social change and sustainability.” In J. Hatfield and D. Karlen (eds.), Sustain-able Agriculture Systems(pp. 261-285). Boca Raton, Florida: Lewis.Google Scholar
  32. Roberts, R. and G. Hollander (1997). “Sustainable technolo-gies, sustainable farms: Farms, households and structural change.” In B. Ilbery, Q. Chiotti, and T. Rickard (eds.), Agri-cultural Restructuring and Sustainability: A Geographical Perspective(pp. 55-72). Wallingford, UK: CAB Interna-tional.Google Scholar
  33. Salamon, S. (1992). Prairie Patrimony: Family, Farming, and Community in the Midwest. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.Google Scholar
  34. Tovey, H. (1997). “Food, environmentalism and rural sociology: On the organic farming movement in Ireland." Sociologia Ruralis37: 21-37.Google Scholar
  35. US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment (1995). Targeting Environmental Priorities in Agriculture: Reforming Program Strategies. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  36. Walter, G. (1997). “Images of success: How Illinois farmers define the successful farmer.” Rural Sociology62: 48-68.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations