Exchanges among farmers’ collectives in support of sustainable agriculture : From review to reconceptualization Article - Janvier 2021

Celina Slimi, Magali Prost, Marianne Cerf, Lorène Prost

Celina Slimi, Magali Prost, Marianne Cerf, Lorène Prost, « Exchanges among farmers’ collectives in support of sustainable agriculture : From review to reconceptualization  », Journal of Rural Studies, janvier 2021. ISSN 0743-0167

Abstract

Successful sustainable transitions require an understanding of the drivers and resources needed to support the required changes. While the importance of farmers’ collectives in these transitions is underlined by various scientific studies and public policies, we lack an overview of how scholars are dealing with this topic. This paper has two main objectives : i) a review of the studies that explore the interplay between exchanges among collectives and the farmers’ transition pathways to sustainable agriculture, and ii) a conceptual framework to analyze this interplay. Drawing on a review of 43 scientific articles, it highlights a variety of possible theoretical and methodological approaches and interpretations to inform our understanding. Based on the literature, we have distinguished four perspectives in this field : i) the way farmers rely on collectives during their transition process ; ii) the collectives as complex organizations ; iii) the collectives as loci for knowing ; and iv) learning processes among collectives. We also show that these studies fail to provide insights on the interplay between the farmers’ dynamics of transitioning towards sustainable agriculture and those of the collectives, and the way it contributes to supporting professional transition. To illuminate this interplay, we introduce a conceptual framework based on Deweyian pragmatism and developmental approaches that allows us to analyze the transition process as one of farmer empowerment. We focus on the farmers’ experience, on the way they are affected by their working situations, and on how support for inquiry can help them rebuild meaning and continuity in their transitions. This work should contribute to informing the circulation of agroecological knowledge issues and enable stakeholders who support these processes to find the most appropriate levers for a diversity of farmers and farming systems.

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