Category Archives: President’s Corner

President’s Corner: Towards Construction of Social and Sustainable Science

By Koichi Ikegami, President of IRSA

I attended the International Conference on ‘Social and Sustainability Science ASEAN 2018: Agri-Food Systems and Rural Sustainability’ at Chulalongkorn University on 23-25 of January 2018. I was invited as President of IRSA. I had a keynote speech entitled as Ensuring Rural Sustainability in the Unequal Worlds. Major points of my speech were as follows; 1) Major Issues in the 21st Century such as Structuration of the North South Problem, Casino Capitalism or Speculative Capitalism, and Global Warming and Climate Change, 2) Flat World, but Unequal World: Other Side of Globalization, 3) Background of Rise of Alternative Movement , 4)Two Examples of alternative movement: Fair Trade and Creation of FEC Sufficient Territory in Higashi-Oumi city, Japan, 5)‘Mura’ Business: Model of Small Business of Village, by Village and for Village. Of course, I mentioned about next World Congress of IRSA, and asked that most of participants there would come to join us in 2020.

On the following day after Conference, I was also asked to give a mini lecture for establishing MOST School. Required theme is “Rural sustainability and contemporary social science approaches”. I did not realize what MOST meant until that time. It was a very new idea for me. MOST is a UNESCO’s intergovernmental science programme on social transformations. As for this regard, it is important to identify to what direction society transforms. The answer is towards sustainable society.

The both events were organized by Chulalongkorn University and UNESCO. There were lots of participants from ASEAN countries. One of my major impressions was that ASEAN countries paid strong attentions to sustainability. One of reasons for such attraction might be adoption of SDGs in 2015 as well as reflection of the results by development-oriented policies.

SDGs include not only poverty and hunger but also gender and partnership as well as sustainable agriculture. It is uncommon in Japan that the so-called Developed Countries such as Japan are involved in SDGs. One example indicates this fact very well, that a mayor of a city in Shiga Prefecture claimed strongly the SDGs-oriented policy by Prefecture Office of Shiga according to his understanding that SDGs addressed only Developing Countries.
It is an urgent task to build sustainable science in social science. I am strongly confident that rural sociology can contribute to accomplishing this task.

New President Identifies Priorities for IRSA

Ikegami PhotoProfessor Koichi Ikegami has been elected President of IRSA for 2016-2020. Professor Ikegami is based in the Faculty of Agriculture at Kindai University, Nara, Japan. His scholarly work embraces the areas of food, agriculture, fair trade and community sustainability. He has held many important and influential roles over the past few decades including President of the Asian Rural Sociology Association and President of the Japanese Association for Rural Studies. He has also been a regional representative on the Council of IRSA. He has outlined his vision for IRSA which can read here.

PRESIDENT’S CORNER: Neoliberalism – Growing Resistance?

geoffrey-lawrenceIn the last President’s Corner of 2015 I outlined evidence of the (largely negative) impacts of neoliberalism on farming and rural communities. One issue not covered was that of resistance to neoliberalism. In this President’s Corner I have attached an interesting overview of this issue by leading rural sociologists Professors Alessandro Bonanno (Sam Houston State University) and Steven Wolf (Cornell University). They provide examples of opposition to a corporate-based agri-food system, highlighting the groups which are proposing alternative futures. Their contribution is a background ‘white paper’ for the mini-conference on ‘The New Frontiers of Resistance in Global Agri-food’, to be held at the IRSA World Congress of Rural Sociology in Toronto this August.

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PRESIDENT’S CORNER: Neoliberalism, Agriculture and Rural Society: Reaching Some Conclusions

geoffrey-lawrenceIn recent times our colleagues have been evaluating neoliberalism and its impacts upon farming – and upon rural society, more generally. A significant contribution has been Steven Wolf and Alessandro Bonanno’s edited collection The Neoliberal Regime in the Agri-food Sector: Crisis, Resilience and Restructuring which arose from an RSS Sociology of Agrifood Research Interest Group (SAFRIG) mini-conference held in Chicago in 2012. In August this year the theme of the European Society for Rural Sociology Congress was ‘Places of Possibility: Rural Societies in a Neoliberal World’. Globally, agri-food scholars including Alessandro Bonanno, Hilde Bjorkhaug, Larry Busch, Hugh Campbell, Jennifer Clapp, Madeleine Fairbairn, Vaughan Higgins, Phil McMichael, Terry Marsden, Bill Pritchard and many others have sought to understand links between neoliberalism and agrifood restructuring. What have been the impacts of neoliberalism upon agriculture and rural society? Are we moving beyond neoliberalism?
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President’s Corner: A Prosperous Future for Rural Asia?

geoffrey-lawrenceThe Fifth International Conference of the Asian Rural Sociological Association was held in Vientiane, Laos, from 2-5 September 2014. I was invited to present a keynote which I had written with colleagues from Australia and Germany (click to access paper). The keynote dealt with the process of ‘financialisation’ and what this might mean for rural Asia. However, there were several other prominent themes which emerged from the conference. Continue reading

PRESIDENT’S CORNER – The International Year of Family Farming

2014 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Family Farming. It is estimated that there are over 500 million small-holder/family farms worldwide and that these farms provide food for up to 2 billion people (the majority in the developing world). Some 85% of smallholder farms operate on no more than about 4 acres (1.6 hectares) of land. Yet, these small-scale operations occupy about 60% of the world’s arable land. With such a significant presence it is obvious that small-scale, family, farming is very important not only to food provision, but also to ensuring biodiversity and the protection of natural resources. What is the future of the family farm?
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President’s Corner: CAFO Contradictions and Test-tube Meat

geoffrey-lawrenceConcentrated Animal Feeding Operations – commonly referred to as CAFOs – have become an important, if not controversial, component of industrial farming throughout the world. CAFOs are often praised for the efficient way in which animals can be raised, slaughtered, and their protein delivered to a hungry world. But they also raise concerns about environmental pollution and, in particular, animal cruelty. What do we know about CAFOs? Are they the future of animal protein production, or will they be irrelevant in a world of test-tube meat? Continue reading