Reference : When farmers learn through dialog with their practices: A proposal for a theory of ac...
Scientific journals : Article
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
When farmers learn through dialog with their practices: A proposal for a theory of action for agricultural trajectories
Brédart, David mailto [Université de Liège > Ingénierie des biosystèmes (Biose) > Biodiversité et Paysage >]
Stassart, Pierre M mailto [Université de Liège > DER Sc. et gest. de l'environnement (Arlon Campus Environ.) > Gouvernance de l'environnement >]
Journal of Rural Studies
Pergamon Press - An Imprint of Elsevier Science
Yes (verified by ORBi)
[en] good farming ; trajectory ; feed autonomy ; livestock farming ; agricultural transition ; pragmatic sociology ; John Dewey
[en] Using pragmatic sociology, we studied feed autonomy in mixed livestock-crop farming in the western region of Belgium (Hainaut Province). In this paper we first describe feed autonomy as an innovation structured around the withdrawal of soybeans and corn from cattle rations. In so doing, we approach feed autonomy as an opportunity for farmers to change their relationships with the soil, plants, animals, and other human beings and reconnect harmful situations to their courses of action. We then show (1) how this withdrawal is accompanied by adaptation in breeding practices (through reconfigurations of cognitive processes and practices) and (2) how events that interrupt the farmer's normal course of action require the farmers to develop their attentiveness to, i.e., their abilities to heed various elements to allow for variability and guide their actions. We therefore propose a theory of action in which learning is the result of surprises, of what destabilizes the farmer and raises doubt in her/his mind about her/his practices. To do that, we take inspiration from John Dewey's work and his notion of experience. Our results question the conceptualization of the trajectory that represents the process of change as a series of sequences with the event as a trigger. Indeed, we understand change to be a constant process of adjusting goals and means that is punctuated by events that become events only when attention is given to them. So, the event itself is no longer the trigger, and understanding adaptation in a trajectory's direction hinges more on the attention that is paid to the event.
This research was funded by the AgricultureIsLife agricultural research support cell (“CARE”), University of Liège Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Belgium.

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