European restructuring and changing agricultural policies. Rural self-identity and modes of life in late modernity

Agriculture and Human Values 10 (4):2-12 (1993)
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The main idea of this article is to present various perspectives in order to analyze the recent crisis concerning the agriculture-based rural societies in the developed capitalist communities. In all of these countries there is a production crisis, resulting in too much food. But this is also an ideological crisis, because the consumer thinks that the food is produced at too high a price. And it is a political crisis as well because a major part of the voters think subsidies and trade barriers are too high. The paper argues that beneath the present agricultural and rural policy crisis lies the failure of three great projects of our time: 1) The project of natural science; 2) The project of liberal capitalism; and 3) The project of scientific socialism. The failure of these three projects has to do with the breakdown of the positivist idea of modernization. Modernization theory was partly wrong because it overlooked the persistence of locally based life modes. Those life modes must be understood before a sustainable rural development is found. The article reviews some contemporary social science perspectives that have recently been developed to grasp the fundamental changes of today's rural societies. Based on those perspectives and primarily the life mode perspective, five key elements that are essential to analyze if we want to understand future development are isolated: food production, resources, space, social diversity, and culture



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