The Science for Action and Development department of INRA (National Institute for Research in Agriculture) hosted in November an international meeting called “New Types of Agriculture: common farming, public debates and social critics”.

The objective of this meeting was to consider different types of sustainable farming through the scope of social sciences. The main concern was to emphasize the importance of sociology as a research field in agroecology, and not only as a technical aspect of sustainable farming. With this objective, a presentation was made from a host of scientific work, allowing for a hereto unseen exchange of views between researchers and institutions.

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr

The meeting was held in Dijon for two days, with participants and speakers coming from both sides of the Atlantic. Yuna Chiffoleau from INRA and SupAgro Montpellier, Julie Guthman from the Universiy of California – Santa Cruz, Claude Compagnone from AgroSup Dijon, Nancy Peluso from the University of California – Berkeley and Michel Wander from the University of Illinois – Champaign led the conversation. Philippe Corcuff, from the Lyon Institute of Political Studies, put farming issues in perspective with sociological theory and political science while Michael Bell, from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Stéphane Bellon, from INRA – Avignon, presented their common work on agroecology.

More specific questions were examined during dedicated workshops in order to cover every social dimension found in new forms of agriculture. A very broad range of issues was discussed, from the representation of agriculture in public debate, to changes in consideration of local and global scales. The new links between farming and growing urbanism were also discussed, as well as the evolution of expertise and professional identity in agriculture.

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr

This international meeting gave rise to promising perspectives regarding partnerships between French and US research centers. Joint publications are to follow and a second international meeting located in the United States is scheduled for the year 2014.