Differing Developments of Organic Agriculture in Canada and Sweden: The Experiences of the Farmers Themselves

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Examines the move towards organic agriculture as an example of social change which can best be understood as the result of three factors: nature, social structure and human agency. The study extends beyond pre-ecological understandings of social change and attempts to incorporate peoples’ relationships with the natural environment as a factor influencing shifts in the patterns of daily life. The focus of the discussion is on understanding the forces which have produced the concern for agricultural sustainability in Canada and Sweden.


“Grounded in the words and actions of farm people, McLaughlin’s study provides a rich analysis of the complexities and dynamics which affect the direction of change. This work will be of interest to farmers, environmentalists, policy-makers, academics and others interested in better understanding social change, in particular the role of people’s actions and choices in their everyday lives.” - Dr. Jennie Hornosty, Full Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of New Brunswick

“Dr. McLaughlin’s study of the development of organic agriculture in Canada and Sweden makes an important contribution to the study of resistance to globalizing capitalism, especially in what has become known as the ‘neo-liberal era.’ This study is framed by a tapestry of sensitive theoretical ideas and is always transcending the immediate issue at hand - the organic agricultural movement in Canada and Sweden - to explore more enduring questions central to sociological and historical analysis.” - Professor Thom Workman, Department of Political Science, University of New Brunswick

“Differing Developments of Organic Agriculture in Canada and Sweden is an original and provocative account of the development of organic farming in both countries. A significant contribution to understanding social change in alternative organic agriculture in the twenty-first century, it approaches organic farming from a critical political economy perspective. ... The power of this book lies in Dr. McLaughlin’s use of academic scholarship and his thoughtful exploration from extensive organic farmer interviews, who describe their experiences, successes and problems.” - Dr. Vanda Rideout, Associate Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of New Brunswick

Table of Contents

Author’s Preface
Preface by Jennie Hornosty
1 Everyday Sources of Social Change
2 From Determinism to Agency: Theories of Social Change
3 Methodological Consideration Research Design
4 Accounting for the Role of Nature in Social Change: Ecological Consciousness
5 Accounting for the Role of Macro Structures in Social Change: Resources and Constraints
6 Accounting for the Role of the Micro-Structural Features in Social Change: Mediating Economic and Social Relations
7 Making Differences and Making a Difference: Agents and Agency
8 Making Agriculture Sustainable
9 Conclusion: Understanding Social Change

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