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Agricultural transitions: Exploring farmer agency for a refined understanding of change processes

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandling

  • Bonnie Averbuch
Modern agriculture has caused unintended adverse effects. Thus, there is pressure to transition towards more sustainable agricultural systems. Many frameworks have been developed to explain how change happens in socio-technical systems. Among them, Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) has gained prominence in studying agricultural transitions. However, MLP has received criticism for having simplified explanations of change, overemphasizing structure and the macro level while underemphasizing agency, lack of inclusion of socio-cultural values, and bias towards bottom-up change. This thesis offers new insights into how an improved understanding of structure-agency relations can better explain how multi-level change processes occur. Specifically, it refines conceptions of agency during processes of change to improve transition frameworks and their applicability. Empirically, I use case studies to explore structure-agency interactions across multiple levels. My findings build off recent research that has tried to account for socio-cultural values and incorporate the possibility of multiple development pathways into MLP and other transition frameworks. I conclude that: (1) transitions are adaptations to existing systems, rather than radical shifts from one system to another, (2) agency can be understood and incorporated into transition frameworks as spectra of possible and meaningful actions, (3) meso-level understandings of agency allows for the incorporation of heterogeneity within and between groups of actors, and (4) multiple development pathways might be happening at one time. Therefore, I believe there is a case for a unified understanding of transition processes.
ForlagAarhus Universitet
Antal sider166
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2022

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