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Durham e-Theses
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Farming In Transition? An Exploration of Agricultural Experience in the North East of England

PELLY, LYNN (2013) Farming In Transition? An Exploration of Agricultural Experience in the North East of England. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Through the lens of complexity theory, this thesis seeks to establish an argument for agriculture to be viewed as a complex system which is based on a representative case study of mixed lowland farming in County Durham. The discussion encompasses an investigation of the notion of crisis within this system and the main factors producing this point of change/ phase shift, be they from within the system (endogenous) or from outside of the system (exogenous). This thesis contends that agricultural systems are complex, combining human and biological elements that link together diverse people, places and processes through multiple product flows and intermediaries. They are characterised by emergent properties and non-linear dynamics, due in part to highly articulated interactions at numerous levels. On occasions small occurrences can produce large effects, but large events can produce complete and massive change and phase shift. This is particularly evident in several recent crises in agriculture.
Empirical data is gathered through extensive and in-depth interviewing of a sample, which is representative of this lowland mixed farming community and autoethnography. This was combined with an extensive review of government publications, official statistics, academic writing and media reports to frame the entirety of the issue. This thesis finds that there is much evidence of novel change, and therefore, phase shift within the complex socio-production system of mixed lowland farming. This change emanates from both internal factors (endogenous) such as BSE and foot-and-mouth disease and also from factors external to the system (exogenous) such as reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and investment in agricultural land by those from outside the industry. The lowland mixed family farm is at a time of change; especially vulnerable are those on tenant farms and the next generation wishing to follow their parents into farming.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2013
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Jun 2013 12:05

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