Observing farming systems: Insights from social systems theory

  • Egon NoeEmail author
  • Hugo F. Alrøe


In Denmark, agriculture is becoming increasingly specialised, and more and more actors are becoming involved in farm decision making. These trends are more or less pronounced in other European countries as well. We therefore find that to understand modern farming systems, we have to shift the focus of analysis from individual farmers to communication and social relations. This is where Luhmann’s social systems theory can offer new insights. Firstly, it can help observe and understand the operational closure and system logic of a farming system and how this closure is produced and reproduced. Secondly, it provides a theory of functional differentiation and structural couplings that opens up for a new approach to look at sustainability by way of decoupling, recoupling and new forms of coupling.


Farming System Operational Closure Structural Coupling Vertical Differentiation Actor Network Theory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AgroecologyAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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