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Sustainability 2013, 5(9), 3858-3875;

Rethinking Study and Management of Agricultural Systems for Policy Design

Centre of Research in Agrifood Economy and Development, Parc Mediterrani de la Tecnologia, Castelldefels 08860 (Barcelona), Spain
Department of Environment and Food, Polythecnic School, University of Vic, C/la Laura, 13, Vic 08500 (Barcelona), Spain
Fundació ENT, C/Sant Joan 39, first floor, Vilanova i la Geltrú 08800 (Barcelona), Spain
Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology. Autonomous University of Barcelona. Bellaterra 08193 (Barcelona), Spain
Center for the Analysis of Sustainable Agro-ecological Systems (CASAS), Kensington, CA 94707, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 June 2013 / Revised: 14 August 2013 / Accepted: 30 August 2013 / Published: 12 September 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Organic Farming and a Systems Approach to Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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There is a concern that agriculture will no longer be able to meet, on a global scale, the growing demand for food. Facing such a challenge requires new patterns of thinking in the context of complexity and sustainability sciences. This paper, focused on the social dimension of the study and management of agricultural systems, suggests that rethinking the study of agricultural systems entails analyzing them as complex socio-ecological systems, as well as considering the differing thinking patterns of diverse stakeholders. The intersubjective nature of knowledge, as studied by different philosophical schools, needs to be better integrated into the study and management of agricultural systems than it is done so far, forcing us to accept that there are no simplistic solutions, and to seek a better understanding of the social dimension of agriculture. Different agriculture related problems require different policy and institutional approaches. Finally, the intersubjective nature of knowledge asks for the visualization of different framings and the power relations taking place in the decision-making process. Rethinking management of agricultural systems implies that policy making should be shaped by different principles: learning, flexibility, adaptation, scale-matching, participation, diversity enhancement and precaution hold the promise to significantly improve current standard management procedures. View Full-Text
Keywords: Complex Socio-ecological Systems; constructivism; realism; pragmatism; food security Complex Socio-ecological Systems; constructivism; realism; pragmatism; food security

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Rivera-Ferre, M.G.; Ortega-Cerdà, M.; Baumgärtner, J. Rethinking Study and Management of Agricultural Systems for Policy Design. Sustainability 2013, 5, 3858-3875.

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