Organic farmers facing the processes of institutionalization and conventionalization. A longitudinal study in Belgium

In this paper, we examine how professional practices of organic farmers and their justification of it have evolved over the past 8-10 years. We interviewed thirty Belgian organic farmers, the first time, in 2001-2003, and again in 2010-11. We draw on theories of institutionalization and conventionalization of organic agriculture and complete them with the theory of justification, especially by referring to an ecological order of justification. We adopt a longitudinal device and proceed by abduction. The research results show that for the majority of the interviewed farmers, the effects of the processes of institutionalization and conventionalization are relatively limited. For these subjects, the ecological references do not diminish in importance, but are transformed. More specifically, those farmers innovate by “accommodating” the ecological order with the industrial and commercial. A minority of the interviewees benefit from the processes of institutionalization and conventionalization and another minority is excluded from organic farming.

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Review of Agricultural and Environmental Studies - Revue d'Etudes en Agriculture et Environnement (RAEStud), Volume 95, Issue 4
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