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New directions in agri-environmental governance: Everyday digitalization in agri-environmental governance

Applicant Forney Jérémie
Number 183710
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Institut d'Ethnologie Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.06.2019 - 28.02.2022
Approved amount 777'953.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Ethnology
Social geography and ecology
Sociology

Keywords (19)

Big Data; food labels; United kingdom; Agriculture 4.0; Neoliberalisation of nature; modes of governance; collective knowledge; coordination; Digitization; Switzerland; Digitalization; Indonesia; autonomy; Transnational food networks; Agri-environmental policies; New Zealand; Smart farming; audit systems; food studies

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les technologies digitales ont ouvert de nouvelles perspectives pour penser le futur de nos sociétés et l’agriculture et l’alimentation ne sont pas en reste. Robotisation, automatisation et intelligence artificielle suscitent de nombreux espoirs pour atténuer l’impact environnemental de la production alimentaire. Les TD ont toutefois des implications sociales et culturelles importantes qu’il est nécessaire d’explorer, non seulement pour permettre un ajustement des technologies à la réalité sociale, mais aussi pour en anticiper les conséquences de leur application sur les rapports entre homme et nature.
Lay summary

Des recherches précédentes indiquent que la digitalisation impacte significativement les pratiques de gouvernance agro-environnementale. Elle accélère la bureaucratisation de la gouvernance, renforce la traçabilité et la capacité de contrôle, tout en ouvrant de nouveaux espaces de coordination et de partage des savoirs.  

Ce projet explore les implications de ces transformations sous l’angle de la centralité qu’auront à l’avenir les technologies digitales dans la gouvernance des enjeux agro-environnementaux. Pour ce faire, il concentre son attention sur la pénétration des technologies digitales dans le quotidien des pratiques de gouvernance actuelles (mobilisation de plateforme connectées, création de grandes bases de données, technologie de traçabilité). Au moyen de trois études de cas (Suisse, UE, Indonésie), il questionne plus précisément : a) comment la digitalisations reconfigurent les pratiques de gouvernance ; b) comment elle transforme les savoirs et compétences liées à l’agriculture ; c) dans quelle mesures elle contribue à une plus grande autonomisation des consommateurs et producteurs.

Ce projet s’insère dans une ligne de recherche en sciences sociales sur l’évolution des systèmes agro-alimentaires. Comme le thème de la digitalisation est d’une grande actualité politique et sociétale, une attention particulière est portée à l’intégration du projet dans les débats au sein de la cité autour des rapports entre technologie, environnement et production alimentaire, notamment par la tenue d’un blog de recherche et l’intégration d’acteurs concernés dans le processus de recherche.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 12.12.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Gouverner les agriculteurs par les données ? Digitalisation et autonomie dans la gouvernance agro-environnementale
Forney Jérémie, EpineyLudivine (2022), Gouverner les agriculteurs par les données ? Digitalisation et autonomie dans la gouvernance agro-environnementale, Maison d'Analyse des Processus Sociaux, Neuchâtel.
Identities on the family farm: agrarianism, materiality and the good farmer
Forney Jérémie, Sutherland Lee-Ann (2021), Identities on the family farm: agrarianism, materiality and the good farmer, in James Harvey Jr (ed.), Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, Glos, 65-84.
The Good Farmer Culture and Identity in Food and Agriculture
BurtonRob, ForneyJérémie, StockPaul, SutherlandLee-Ann (2020), The Good Farmer Culture and Identity in Food and Agriculture, Routledge, London/New York.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Socio-économie-Environnement-Développement, Université de Liège Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Institut de géographie, Université de Neuchâtel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Agridea Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Colorado State University, Sociology Dep. United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dep. of Sociology, Kansas University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Centre for Rural Research - Bygdeforskning Norway (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
New Political Geographies, Aberystwyth University Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Fondation Rurale Interjurassienne Switzerland (Europe)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Institut Teknologi Bandung Indonesia (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Centre for Sustainability, Otago University New Zealand (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Multiple paths of digitalization in agriculture and food Talk given at a conference Governing Farmers through Data? Autonomy and the digitization of agri-environmental governance in Switzerland 14.02.2022 Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland Forney Jérémie;
“Smart Farming”: Between Traceability and Automation Talk given at a conference “Everyday Digitalisation” in Agri-Environmental Governance: A Few Reflections from Switzerland 19.09.2019 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Forney Jérémie;
ESRS2019 Conference "Rural futures in a complex world" Talk given at a conference Beyond fascinating smart tools: "everyday digitalization" and the governance of agriculture and food 25.06.2019 Trondhiem, Norway Forney Jérémie;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Workshop: Multiple paths of digitalization in agriculture and food 14.02.2022 Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Project Workshop- digital agriculture and social sciences in Siwtzerland 19.02.2020 Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland
“Smart Farming”: Between Traceability and Automation 19.09.2019 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Digitalisation de l’agriculture: le bonheur numérique est-il dans le pré? RTS Western Switzerland 2022
Talks/events/exhibitions CONFÉRENCE-DÉBAT LOCAL OU BIO? FAUT-IL CHOISIR SON CAMP? Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television Forum. Le smart farming ou l'intelligence artificielle en agriculture RTS la Première Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: print media, online media Tribune: La digitalisation de l’agriculture est bien là, mais qu’allons-nous en faire? Terre et Nature Western Switzerland 2019

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
157414 New directions in agri-environmental governance: re-assembling food, knowledge and autonomy 01.06.2015 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

Digital technologies and robotics have opened up intriguing new perspectives for thinking about the future of farming and food. From drone surveillance of crops, to automatic milking systems to weed-killing robots, a good deal of hope is placed in these new technologies, and in their potential for minimizing the environmental impact of agricultural practices and food production (Dutta, Lanvin, and Wunsch-Vincent 2017). For example, programming robots to fight weeds dramatically reduces the amount of herbicides used on specific crops, while simultaneously limiting the soil degradation caused by heavy tractors. Collecting extensive data sets on farms and the food chain, and connecting these to tools and machinery, is thought to harbour great potential for control, monitoring, and optimization. In short, like many other sectors of the economy, agriculture and food have entered the era of Big Data. From an anthropological perspective, this new era is driven by far more than the allure of innovative technologies or intelligent machines. These technological changes are socially and culturally significant, raising the spectre of a fundamental turning point that could impact agriculture and food in some of their essential attributes: the relations between human and non-human (animals, soil, etc.) agents; the place of human knowledge and work in providing for sustainable subsistence; indeed the nature of one of mankind’s oldest links to nature - farming. The fast integration of digital technologies in agri-environmental governance (AEG) practices points to new challenges related to processes identified in the first phase. Digitalization quickens and transforms the bureaucratization of governance; it multiplies the potential for building traceability and reinforces practices of control; and it opens new spaces of coordination and knowledge-sharing. Rather than focussing on pioneering experimentations that embody the highlights of this technological turn (such as demonstration farms or prototypical smart machines), often without questioning their viability in real life, this follow-up project will target already common and everyday digitalization in AEG, with the objective of analysing change in the making. Based on a deepening of cases already explored in the first phase (IP-Suisse, Donau Soy, and the alternative agri-food scene in Indonesia), this follow-up project examines the digitalization in AEG through the lens of the same three dimensions - food, knowledge, and autonomy - looking more specifically at: a) how digitalization transforms the configurations of AEG practices; b) how digital technologies reframe the skills required in food production and its governance; and c) under what conditions digital tools promote farmer and consumer autonomy.
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