The rural-agriculture power play

Loka Ashwood, Michael M. Bell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Over 30 years ago, rural studies took a marked turn away from the symbolism of its rural footing. In the midst of a farm crisis, failed social interventions and misplaced support of productivism, rural sociologists recognised it was time for theoretical innovation and change in the discipline. And how better to turn the passive sociological support of technocratic agribusiness into a razor-edged refute than through the sociology of agriculture? Newby’s (1983) now classic critique offered the sociology of agriculture as a counter to the failed sociology of the rural. Agriculture and its labour enabled a materialist approach rooted in political economy that classic writers like Marx and Kautsky could speak to. And although the rural may not matter to everyone, eating and the means for doing so do, ensuring disciplinary relevance. Instead of the population decline and regressive politics of the rural, which Marx famously characterised as the ‘idiocy of rural life’ (Marx & Engels [1848] 1972, p. 477), the sociology of agriculture offered a rebirth of the discipline through theoretical tools not specific to the rural, like commodification, mechanisation, extraction and exploitation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge International Handbook of Rural Studies
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781317619864
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Mark Shucksmith and David L. Brown.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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