Agricultural change and rural development in an upland area of France : the case of "La Cerdagne"

Bugler, Simon Peter

December 1990

Thesis or dissertation

© 1990 Simon Peter Bugler. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The restructuring of post-war West European agriculture has had repercussions for general economic activity, local labour markets, local rural economic structures and the provision of local services. This study addresses these and related issues in one region of France.The region - La Cerdagne Francaise - is located in the Pyrenees,approximately 100 km west of Perpignan.The region is an upland area, falling within the remit of special EC agricultural policies designed to maintain an agricultural presence in the region.

Economists and geographers have dominated research on agricultural and rural change. This study adopts a sociological and anthropological focus, and is based on extensive fieldwork. Whereas structural-functionalist approaches have taken the rural village as the object and location of study, Marxian writings link agricultural change and rural development to wider processes within the capitalist mode of production. This study utilizes an actor based perspective,examining the processual nature of change within the region. Archive research, historical reconstruction and ethnographic fieldwork are used to examine the processes of change in the region from the early nineteenth century to to-day.

The post-war restructuring of agriculture in France has left farming families facing acute difficulties in terms of labour supply, low farm incomes, lack of off-farm economic opportunities, and problems of succession. These problems are particularly acute in La Cerdagne where local agriculture has become marginal. The particular form that agricultural restructuring has taken in La Cerdagne has been influenced by a small number of powerful local farming families and locally-grounded kinship systems that extend beyond the agricultural sector in the region. These families and the importance of kinship underpin the patterns of continuity and change in the region.

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, The University of Hull
Francis, Ray
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