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The aim of this paper is to describe the conception of the research especially the theoretical conception. Furthermore, the research focus will be exemplifi ed through the description of fi rst empirical results. Care farming can be named innovation because taking on social duties is “relatively” new for farmers. Before industrialisation people with special needs were often integrated at farms. At the present time care farming starts to become important again as a part of multifunctional agriculture. Care farming offers rehabilitation, therapy, care or pedagogic for people with special needs by working in an agricultural surrounding. The target group can be manifold; it ranges from children to elderly, from long-term unemployed to mentally or physically disabled people. This article focuses on current social developments, especially in rural regions. Through the comparison between Austria and the Netherlands it will be possible to gain a new insight into the development of innovative practices because both countries are in different development stages regarding this innovation. There will be a special focus on the process of innovation and on infl uencing social networks. Social networks mean relations between actors. Furthermore, the existence of relations allow the exchange of information or the transaction of practical, emotional or fi nancial support which could infl uence the development of the innovation. Based on the idea that social networks highly infl uence the process of innovation, I will focus on these by using qualitative network analysis. The research focus is quite complex because micro and macro perspective will be combined by using the theory of structuration by Giddens. The micro level will be investigated empirically by focusing on single care farming projects while the macro perspective will be taken into account by applying a comparative approach and by interviewing care-farming experts. Combined with literature review this will help to understand why the surroundings for the development of innovative practice are diverse in different countries and how they infl uence the behaviour of care farmers. To sum up, the main focus of this paper is on the description of the care farming sector in Austria and the Netherlands and on the explanation of the research focus in this project. Furthermore, there will be an illustration of the theoretical framework which will be used in this research, how different theories are connected and why the theoretical focus will be helpful to understand the development of innovative practice.


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