Implicit Sociology, Interdisciplinarity and Systems Theories in Agricultural Science

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    Recurring political and economic crises in agriculture lie behind policymakers' demands for more interdisciplinary, problem-solving approaches. This article examines different systems theories in agricultural sciences that claim to adopt interdisciplinarity and to bridge a supposed gap between the natural and social sciences. It analyses the debates and differences between so-called 'hard systems' and 'soft systems' approaches, or positivist and interpretative approaches. It aims to make the confrontation between these two approaches more legible as well as to reveal the shortcomings of each position. In particular, the implicit and unsophisticated sociology underlying the hard systems approach is a key issue. Critical realist theory is explored as an alternative to both the hard and the soft systems approach towards interdisciplinarity since it opens up space for thinking in a non-reductionist way about multiple determinations without rejecting the value of single disciplines for uncovering the working of important causalities
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)172-188
    JournalSociologia Ruralis
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • land-use
    • ecosystem services
    • design
    • models


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