Observing farming systems: Insights from social systems theory

Egon Noe, Hugo Fjelsted Alrøe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


In Denmark, agriculture is becoming increasingly specialised, and more and more actors are becoming involved in farm decision making. These trends are more or less pronounced in other European countries as well. We therefore find that to understand modern farming systems, we have to shift the focus of analysis from individual farmers to communication and social relations. This is where Luhmann’s social systems theory can offer new insights. Firstly, it can help observe and understand the operational closure and system logic of a farming system and how this closure is produced and reproduced. Secondly, it provides a theory of functional differentiation and structural couplings that opens up for a new approach to look at sustainability by way of decoupling, recoupling and new forms of coupling.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFarming Systems : Research into the 21st Century: The New Dynamic
EditorsIka Darnhofer, David Gibbon, Benoit Dedieu
PublisherSpringer Science+Business Media
Publication date2012
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-4502-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-4503-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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