Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Agricultural holdings: hindsight and foresight

Laurent, Catherine and Rémy, Jacques (1998): Agricultural holdings: hindsight and foresight. Published in: Etudes et Recherches sur les Systèmes Agraires et le Developpement No. 31 (1998): pp. 415-430.

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In France, the concept of the agricultural holding is a result of a lengthy social construction in which the stages in classification and statistical work have proceeded in tune with the major political struggles and social debates of the 19th and 20th centuries. Some people argue that the “ agricultural holding ” is now just a term revived from the past for the modern “ agricultural enterprise ”. Sociologists and economists therefore need to reconsider the significance and relevance of this concept. The diversity of the ways of practising agricultural activities encountered in French households shows that the economic and social realities referred to in this concept are far too varied for its use in defining a productive sector having an institutional existence. Neither can it be used to demark the social groups that will be entitled to benefit from the support measures of agricul-tural and rural development policies. As a basic statistical unit, however the concept of the agricultural holding can provide a com-mon basic unit for measuring agricultural activity, and the land used for this activity, thereby permitting the integration of results concerning the different functions of agricultural activity (production, natural resource management, land use, socio-economic cohesion, etc.). From this angle, the statistical notion of the agricultural holding as presently defined is of increasing interest for the management of new agricultural and rural policies and for social sciences research.

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