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Enacted relations and the resilience of territorially embedded production systems in Europe

  • von Münchhausen, Susanne
  • Kirwan, James
  • Maye, Damian
  • Muñoz-Rojas, José
  • Pinto-Correia, Teresa
  • Prosperi, Paolo
  • Vergamini, Daniele
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2023
DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2023.106925
OAI: oai:HAL:hal-04259835v1
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Globalization of food chains and scale increases in business models are dramatically affecting rural areas in Europe, by a simplification of land use, new urban-rural relations and reshaped social networks. While pressures on land use systems have been increasing due to the competition on commodity markets, the role of territorially embedded production systems remains crucial in keeping farm biodiversity and unique cultural landscapes, as well as social and cultural ties. Building on the social-ecological resilience approach (Darnhofer (2020b), this paper examines the resilience of territorially embedded production systems in different regions of Europe, including emergent and ongoing patterns of material, social and cultural relations. It shows how primary producers improve the resilience of their production systems in response to increasing pressures resulting from changing ecological, economic, social and cultural conditions. Three production systems are examined: carp farming in Middle Franconia, Germany; wine production in Tuscany, Italy; and olive oil production in Alentejo, Portugal. The paper adopts an adapted relational approach to conceptualise how resilience develops in terms of the ability of producers and their networks to develop new markets, reduce costs and add value. Different types of enacted relations (sets of mutually empowering connections in space and time) are identified, including relations among family members, between farmers, along the commodity chain and with other stakeholders, such as tourism, policy and regional administrations. Using these insights, the paper argues that it is important to shift the focus of agricultural resilience from the producer level to the network level, particularly how network dynamics emerge as relations enacted by diverse actors. These collaborative efforts have the potential to enable primary producers to maintain cultural landscapes, preserve their ecosystems and ensure the farms’ economic survival and by extension help to maintain the socio-ecological resilience of territorial production systems.

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