Special Issue "Social Capital as an Input of Social Sustainability in Rural and Agricultural Cooperatives"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 July 2022 | Viewed by 9887

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Elena Pisani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dep. “Territorio e Sistemi Agro-Forestali” Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
Interests: social innovation in rural areas; social capital; evaluation methods, tools and indicators; environmental network governance
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Julien Vanhulst
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Facultad de Ciencias Socialesy Economicas, Centro de Estudios Urbano-Territoriales Universidad Católica del Maule, Chile
Interests: sustainability; environmental governance; socio-environmental conflicts; alternative economies
Mr. Stefano Micheletti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Center for Urban-Territorial Studies Universidad Católica del Maule, Av. San Miguel 3605, Talca, Maule, Chile
Interests: international migration in agrarian territories; effects of natural disasters in rural context; social capital

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, studies on social capital as an input to move toward social sustainability have opened up space for critical inquiry. Furthermore, scholars have also investigated the assessment and measure of social capital in different types of organizations through analytical, methodological, and conceptual tools.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to explore how social capital in rural and agricultural cooperatives helps to sustainably satisfy basic needs, capacities, and quality of life in communities. We welcome papers that analytically, theoretically, empirically, and methodologically explore the following research questions:

  • How can social capital contribute to social sustainability?
  • What are the contemporary approaches to social sustainability in rural and agricultural cooperatives?
  • How can social capital contribute to a better understanding of rural and agricultural cooperatives?
  • What are innovative indicators and approaches for the evaluation of social capital in rural and agricultural cooperatives?

Articles that include transnational research are encouraged. Additionally, articles focusing on the Global South are particularly welcome. Potential contributors are welcome to contact the Guest Editors to discuss the proposed submissions before 30 June 2020. The submission deadline is 30 September 2020.

Dr. Elena Pisani
Dr. Julien Vanhulst
Mr. Stefano Micheletti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (9 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Article
Promoting Subjective Well-Being among Rural and Urban Residents in Indonesia: Does Social Capital Matter?
Sustainability 2022, 14(4), 2375; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14042375 - 18 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 604
Abstract
There has been growing research on the link between social capital and subjective well-being. However, to date, research investigating the impact of social capital on subjective well-being based on urban and rural typology is limited. Therefore, to fill this gap, this study aims [...] Read more.
There has been growing research on the link between social capital and subjective well-being. However, to date, research investigating the impact of social capital on subjective well-being based on urban and rural typology is limited. Therefore, to fill this gap, this study aims to examine the effects of social capital on subjective well-being, based on urban and rural typology, using large-scale data from 29,341 Indonesian residents, comprising 17,155 urban residents and 12,186 rural residents. A two-stage predictor substitution (2SPS) approach is applied to address the endogeneity issue in estimating the impact of social capital. The empirical findings indicate that social capital significantly increases subjective well-being, i.e., happiness and life satisfaction. However, based on the urban–rural model, we found that the impact of social capital on subjective well-being is different. In the urban model, social capital increases happiness and life satisfaction significantly. However, the rural model indicates that social capital significantly increases happiness, not life satisfaction. These findings imply that subjective well-being impacts urban residents more than rural residents. The main reason is social capital in urban areas is well-developed (i.e., management and infrastructure for community association). Therefore, we suggest developing social capital in rural areas to expand its role in improving well-being. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Sustainability as “Value of Cooperatives”—Can (Wine) Cooperatives Use Sustainability as a Driver for a Brand Concept?
Sustainability 2021, 13(22), 12344; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132212344 - 09 Nov 2021
Viewed by 590
Abstract
Similar to the number of agricultural cooperatives in the European Union, the number of German wine cooperatives is decreasing. The main purpose of the wine cooperatives is to support the member businesses with the highest possible payouts for their grapes. Wine cooperatives can [...] Read more.
Similar to the number of agricultural cooperatives in the European Union, the number of German wine cooperatives is decreasing. The main purpose of the wine cooperatives is to support the member businesses with the highest possible payouts for their grapes. Wine cooperatives can fulfil this purpose by implementing a differentiation strategy. On the one hand, brands can be used for differentiation. On the other hand, cooperatives can use particular values in the communication with customers that correspond to the target group’s values. Based on the definition of the International Co-operative Alliance, cooperatives are a sustainable form of enterprise. Therefore, the question arises whether it is possible to use sustainability as a value that corresponds to cooperatives as a form of enterprise as well as to a strong societal value that gains importance. Which role does social capital play in the context of social sustainability? The aim of this paper is to shed light on the understanding of brands, to show which cooperative-specific characteristics might pose a challenge to cooperatives in terms of brand management and to examine the understanding of the sustainability construct as well as sustainable management practices applied by wine cooperatives to date. Two exploratory, qualitative studies have been conducted. Full article
Article
Rights, Commons, and Social Capital: The Role of Cooperation in an Italian Agri-Food Supply Chain
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12161; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112161 - 04 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 500
Abstract
The paper discusses the relationship between Commons, Social Capital, and sustainability in terms of resources used, tools available, and goals to be achieved. The conceptual framework differs from the traditional one, which considers Commons and Social Capital as different resources. The paper considers [...] Read more.
The paper discusses the relationship between Commons, Social Capital, and sustainability in terms of resources used, tools available, and goals to be achieved. The conceptual framework differs from the traditional one, which considers Commons and Social Capital as different resources. The paper considers Commons and Social Capital as homogeneous assets defined by the rights related to the access, use, and reproduction of collective resources, material or immaterial, which are essential to reduce the difference between private and social costs in the economic processes. This approach derives from a definition of sustainability as a private and social responsibility in reproducing all the resources used in the life processes, minimizing the waste caused by their exhaustion and loss of fertility. The paper refers to the model of Commons by the school of Elinor Ostrom to explain the nature and role of Social Capital and to observe it in different units of analysis, with particular attention to the forms of cooperative enterprise. The last part of the work outlines field research on the Parmigiano Reggiano supply chain as a natural laboratory to test the theoretical hypotheses. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Participatory Guarantee System and Social Capital for Sustainable Development in Brazil: The Case Study of OPAC Orgânicos Sul de Minas
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11555; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011555 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 577
Abstract
In recent years there has been a growing international interest in alternative certification strategies for organic products. Specifically, participatory guarantee systems (PGS) have proved to be particularly suitable not only to simplify bureaucratic procedures for small organic producers and reduce the cost of [...] Read more.
In recent years there has been a growing international interest in alternative certification strategies for organic products. Specifically, participatory guarantee systems (PGS) have proved to be particularly suitable not only to simplify bureaucratic procedures for small organic producers and reduce the cost of certification, but also to generate empowerment, social inclusion and mutual support among farmers. The purpose of this paper is to study the elements of social capital (SC) found in a PGS through the use of social network indicators using the Organizaçao Participativa de Acreditaçao e Certificaçao “Orgânicos Sul de Minas” (OPAC-OSM) as a case study. The research was carried out in the southern part of Minas Gerais, one of the states of the Brazilian Federation, where organic production represents a viable alternative for small and medium-sized farmers. In particular, a survey was carried out to capture the opinions of managers (presidents or directors) about their participation in the OPAC-OSM, and about the level of interaction and degree of trust between members. Relational skills, which are the basis of structural SC, were analyzed both at the level of individual units and at the level of the general network of the OPAC-OSM. An in-degree centrality score assigned to OPAC-OSM members was obtained from each network. These scores have been correlated with variables of the database that were chosen due to their relevance in assessing the level of social capital. According to the results, the factors that most reinforced the proof of SC among the OPAC-OSM members were the level of information and the degree of trust and collaboration networks, with special emphasis on female participation. From the analysis carried out, it is possible to conclude that PGS are powerful tools in the strengthening of SC far beyond the aspect of quality assurance, which remains the main objective of the OPAC. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Reducing the Risk of Co-Optation in Alternative Food Networks: Multi-Stakeholder Cooperatives, Social Capital, and Third Spaces of Cooperation
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11219; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011219 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 686
Abstract
Farming cooperatives are organisations fundamentally based on social capital. However, the neoliberal and globalisation turn in the food system have led to the economisation of agricultural cooperatives as their main objective and criteria for evaluating their performance, and to a retreat from their [...] Read more.
Farming cooperatives are organisations fundamentally based on social capital. However, the neoliberal and globalisation turn in the food system have led to the economisation of agricultural cooperatives as their main objective and criteria for evaluating their performance, and to a retreat from their participation in the wider cooperative movement. Nevertheless, new models of cooperation may provide a method to divert from this neoliberalisation trend by promoting social capital and mutual learning amongst different actors committed to a transition to sustainable food systems. This paper applies the anthropological concept of third spaces to examine the case of multistakeholder cooperatives. This type of food and farming cooperatives are composed of a diverse membership groups (e.g., producers, consumers, coordinators, buyers, etc). A nuanced analysis of these cooperatives’ capacity to generate social capital, and more specifically to blur the boundaries between bonding, bridging, and linking social capital, is presented. Evidence from five case studies suggests that multistakeholder cooperatives that remain at the border of their game, operating in both real and symbolic third spaces, are more likely to be based on and reproduce different types of social capital as well as social and environmental sustainability, while in turn reducing the risk of co-optation of their transformative practices. Full article
Article
Bounded Rationality, Social Capital and Technology Adoption in Family Farming: Evidence from Cocoa-Tree Crops in Ivory Coast
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7483; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137483 - 05 Jul 2021
Viewed by 971
Abstract
In this paper, we allege that the hypothesis in favor of bounded rationality is a plausible explanation when it comes to better understanding the sluggish pace of adoption of best available tree crop farming techniques in poor small-scale rural communities. Our research builds [...] Read more.
In this paper, we allege that the hypothesis in favor of bounded rationality is a plausible explanation when it comes to better understanding the sluggish pace of adoption of best available tree crop farming techniques in poor small-scale rural communities. Our research builds on data collection and analysis of cocoa farming in Ivory Coast. Firstly, we find that the cognitive scarcity under which smallholder farmers make their decisions, in particular, satisficing behavior and fast and frugal heuristics, outweigh the scarcity of financial and human resources. Secondly, we show that the structure of the environment measured through various dimensions of social capital influences human rationality and decision-making. On the one hand, the greater smallholder farmers’ civic capital (solidarity, reciprocity, trustworthiness, cooperation), the more likely they are to modify their farming practices (p < 0.05) and, more specifically, to exchange information, learn, and eventually revise these practices. On the other hand, the greater the number of organizations the farmers participate in, the greater the probability of modifying their practices (p < 0.01). Information about farming techniques disseminates through weak bridging ties built within agricultural organizations (e.g., cooperatives, extension services) rather than through strong bonding ties between family or diaspora members. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Social Capital as an Inclusion Tool from a Solidarity Finance Angle
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7067; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137067 - 23 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1521
Abstract
Within rural environments, the construction of financial ecosystems that both stimulate local development and contribute to poverty reduction requires an increase in associative community activity. Such activity serves as a fundamental means of organizing territorial production systems, reinforcing capacities, and strengthening the negotiating [...] Read more.
Within rural environments, the construction of financial ecosystems that both stimulate local development and contribute to poverty reduction requires an increase in associative community activity. Such activity serves as a fundamental means of organizing territorial production systems, reinforcing capacities, and strengthening the negotiating position of the population being offered financial services. Solidarity finance is important because it recognizes that collective action and criteria such as social efficiency, local capacities, cooperation, associativity, the social fabric, self-management, and resource recirculation are integral aspects of financial evaluation. Therefore, this research proposes a methodology to reinforce the financial service delivery of solidarity finance institutions through the evaluation of social capital in rural production organizations. Social capital is regarded as a resource of the organization’s constituents that can facilitate financial inclusion and generate value for rural populations. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Societal Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Asian Rural Societies: A Multi-Sectoral Social Capital Approach in Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2747; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052747 - 03 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1313
Abstract
The agricultural sector in Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan is facing a number of interrelated crises, including aging producers, falling market prices, changing consumer preferences, and biodiversity degradation. Small-scale farmers in these three societies have engaged in diverse collaborative initiatives with actors from the [...] Read more.
The agricultural sector in Thailand, Taiwan, and Japan is facing a number of interrelated crises, including aging producers, falling market prices, changing consumer preferences, and biodiversity degradation. Small-scale farmers in these three societies have engaged in diverse collaborative initiatives with actors from the public, private, and third sectors to overcome these challenges. We illustrate these initiatives by combining the concept of societal entrepreneurship with a complex understanding of social capital. Given that these initiatives are formed in distinct ways across these societies, the paper aims to answer the following research questions: What is the nature of the relationships (expressed as types of social capital) underlying the processes of societal entrepreneurship? How does social capital contribute to sustainable community development? How does it facilitate the scaling up of solutions through multi-sectoral collaboration? Using a case study approach, we aim to explore multi-sector initiatives in each context in depth, before identifying common patterns and key drivers for collaboration through thematic analysis. We have found that distinct drivers are involved in each context due to different types of social capital, including solutions, advocacy, and reconciliation. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Article
Cooperatives and Social Capital: A Narrative Literature Review and Directions for Future Research
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 534; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020534 - 08 Jan 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1730
Abstract
How cooperatives generate and absorb social capital has attracted a great deal of attention due to the fact that they are collective organizations owned and democratically managed by their members, and, accordingly, are argued to be closely linked to the nature and dynamics [...] Read more.
How cooperatives generate and absorb social capital has attracted a great deal of attention due to the fact that they are collective organizations owned and democratically managed by their members, and, accordingly, are argued to be closely linked to the nature and dynamics of social capital. However, the extant literature and knowledge on the relationship between cooperatives and social capital remain unstructured and fragmented. This paper aims to provide a narrative literature review that integrates both sides of the relationship between cooperatives and social capital. On the one hand, one side involves how cooperatives create internal social capital and spread it in their immediate environment, and, on the other hand, it involves how the presence of social capital promotes the creation and development of cooperatives. In addition, our theoretical framework integrates the dark side of social capital, that is, how the lack of trust, reciprocal relationships, transparency, and other social capital components can lead to failure of the cooperative. On the basis of this review, we define a research agenda that synthesizes key trends and promising research avenues for further advancement of theoretical and empirical insights about the relationship between cooperatives and social capital, placing particular emphasis on rural and agricultural cooperatives. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop