University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Conceptualizing Agriculture: a Critique of Post-Productivism as the New Orthodoxy

Evans, Nick, Morris, C. and Winter, M. (2002) Conceptualizing Agriculture: a Critique of Post-Productivism as the New Orthodoxy. Progress in Human Geography, 26 (3). pp. 313-332. ISSN 0309-1325


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It has become fashionable to conceptualize recent shifts in agrarian priorities as a ‘postproductivist’
transition from a previously ‘productivist’ agriculture. This notion became more
popular throughout the 1990s as a way to capture in one convenient package the complex
changes experienced by both the agricultural sector specifically and within rural areas more
generally. However, the widespread and uncritical use of such an all-encompassing term is
rather surprising given debates elsewhere in human geography on the rejection of dualistic
thinking. Yet, in agricultural and rural studies, the active creation and reinforcement of a productivist/
post-productivist dualism has emerged as a means of explaining the uneven
development of rural areas. This paper develops a critique of post-productivism to demonstrate
its invalidity, presenting empirical evidence to refute five supposed characteristics relating to
quality food, pluriactivity, sustainability, production dispersion and regulation. It is argued that
future progress in agricultural research will only be made if post-productivism is abandoned.
Effort should be refocused upon understanding deeper processes underpinning agricultural
change using existing theoretical perspectives developed in human geography but which lack
application in the agricultural context. Ecological modernization is provided as a brief exemplar
of how such progress may be achieved.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Agriculture, Rural Studies, Human Geography, Geography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Science and the Environment
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Nick Evans
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2007 14:33
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2021 09:26

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