The Sociology of Agriculture

The Sociology of Agriculture


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The Sociology of Agriculture by Frederick H. Buttel, Gilbert W. Gillespie Jr., Olaf F. Larson

Published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rural Sociological Society, this monograph analyzes the nearly 90 years of rural sociological research on agriculture and provides a comprehensive overview of changing research focuses and theoretical approaches. As the authors note at the outset, there are a good number of continuities between early-20th-century rural sociology and what is now called the sociology of agriculture. There are also, they note, very substantial differences between contemporary sociology of agriculture scholarship and that which preceded it. Their aim throughout is to convey both continuities and discontinuities in theory, method, and approach. Intended primarily as a straightforward exposition of major scholarly themes, the volume is designed to be useful to readers from a variety of theoretical persuasions. The authors do, however, point to areas of weakness in theoretical or methodological approach that should be addressed in future research.

The volume is organized around the three major eras of rural sociological conceptualizations of agriculture. The authors begin by examining the founding of U.S. rural sociology shortly after the turn of the century until the early 1950s, demonstrating that during this initial era the study of agriculture was largely construed as one of the many elements necessary for understanding the social fabric of rural community life. In the next section, they explore the social psychological/behaviorist tradition, which held sway from the early 1950s through the early 1970s and which conceptualized farmers as actors responding to stimuli such as new technologies and educational opportunities. The three chapters devoted to recent research in the emerging tradition of the new rural sociology address such topics as the political economy of agriculture, the environment of agriculture, and major theoretical trends in the sociology of agriculture. In their concluding chapter, the authors look toward the future of the sociology of agriculture and identify some potential problems as we move into the 1990s.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313264443
Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/08/1990
Series: Controversies in Science Series , #88
Pages: 283
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.06(d)
Lexile: 1600L (what's this?)

About the Author

FREDERICK H. BUTTEL is Professor of Rural Sociology, a member of the Program on Science, Technology, and Society, and Chairman of the Biology and Society Major at Cornell University. He is currently President-Elect of the Rural Sociological Society and recently served as Chairman of the Section on Environment and Technology of the American Sociological Association. He has previously coauthored or coedited The Rural Sociology of Advanced Societies (1980), Environment, Energy, and Society (1982), Los movimientos ecologistas (1983), and Labor and the Enviornment (1984).

OLAF F. LARSON is Professor of Rural Sociology Emeritus, Cornell University, was Head of the Department of Rural Sociology, 1957-66, and Director, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, 1972-75. He received the Rural Sociological Society's Distinguished Rural Sociologist Award in 1985. Larson is the author of Ten Years of Rural Rehabilitation in the United States (1947, 1951) and has made contributions to more than twenty books and is also the author of numerous professional journal articles including Sociological Aspects of the Low-Income Farm Problem (1955).

GILBERT W. GILLESPIE JR. is Research Associate in the Department of Rural Sociology at Cornell University. His research includes the sociology of agriculture, alternative agriculture, and the environment. He is the coeditor of Environment, Technology, and Society, the newsletter section of the Section on Environment and Technology of the American Sociological Association.

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