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Farmer’s Freedom in the Productive World Order: Standard Takers, Contesters and Negotiators, or Dissenters?

Transforming the Rural

ISBN: 978-1-78714-824-6, eISBN: 978-1-78714-823-9

Publication date: 30 June 2017


Today, governance of food safety and quality as well as environmental aspects of food chains increasingly operates through public and private standards. This governance, as led by retail power, is often interpreted to undermine farmer’s agrarian independence by dictating detailed agricultural practices on the farm, thereby conditioning access into the food chain. Focusing on farmers’ discursive resources, agrarian writing implies an alternative social force, constructed here as farmer’s freedom. By analysing qualitative data from Finland along the theoretical axes of farmers’ interest in socio-economic achievement and willingness to comply with standards, a more nuanced understanding of farmers’ occupational freedom emerges. Freedom in economic interests and organic farming represents farmers as standard takers as standards supported values most important for them. Realizing freedom in economic creativity can be antagonistic to (public) standards and lead to contestations and negotiations for feasibility. Finally, freedom in self-sufficiency is antithetical to the commercial food chain; however, dissenting from standards displays a strong capacity to close the metabolic rift, along with organic farming. The evidence from the study suggests that farmers’ freedom has the character of a social force to modify food chains and to increase their socio-economic and environmental sustainability and to call for consumers’ freedom to join farmers’ efforts.




The author thanks the editors and anonymous reviewers for their indispensable support in preparing the manuscript.


Mikkola, M. (2017), "Farmer’s Freedom in the Productive World Order: Standard Takers, Contesters and Negotiators, or Dissenters?", Transforming the Rural (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 24), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 155-176.



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