Project

Sociologia Ruralis Virtual Special Issue: Exploring social realities in the quest for responsible digital agri-‘cultures’

  • Simon FielkeSimon Fielke
  • Kelly Bronson
  • Michael Carolan

Goal: The race toward agriculture 4.0 has begun – with nations and corporations clamouring to claim their market share in the agtech startup space – both within nation-states and across traditional sovereign borders. This session proposal will provide space to question the institutional logics of the international digitalisation of agricultural innovation systems.

We invite colleagues to draw on rural sociology and agricultural social science to ground respective empirical insights.For example, how do we anticipate the implications of the automation of agricultural supply chain decision-making in restructuring the agri-food sector – what happens to rural communities when farms become farmerless?

How do we be inclusive of diverse viewpoints in the design process for new agricultural technologies to maintain trust – how do we weigh up technological development and risks to agricultural stakeholders’ social licence to operate?

How do we incorporate reflexivity in the evaluation of agtech platform development – how do we make the most of socio-technical investments in digital agriculture to create new rural economies while mitigating risk?

How do we respond to data privacy and governance issues as agro-industrialisation takes the form of big data analytics through machine learning in the agri-food sector – what is the value of food (or data) from ‘somewhere’ in a digital future or are we just mining different agri-‘cultures’?

Relevant and rigorously researched empirical and conceptual papers are invited. These papers will build on momentum from initial scholarly exploration explicitly examining the societal implications of digital agriculture and/or smart farming at the International Farming Systems Association symposium in Chania (2018) and the European Society for Rural Sociology in Trondheim (2019).

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Simon Fielke
added an update
The full 10 papers and editorial for this special issue are now on line. Most are open access, so available to anyone. We hope you find value in the ideas presented in this work and look forward to continuing the discussion.
Kind Regards,
Simon
(on behalf of the Editorial Team)
 
Simon Fielke
added a research item
This editorial introduces a special issue (SI) concerning quests for responsible digital agri‐food innovation. We present our interpretations of the concepts of responsible innovation and digital agri‐food innovation and show why they can and have been productively interrelated with social science theories and methods. First, each of the articles in this SI is briefly introduced and synthesised around three themes: (1) the need for a critique of digital ‘solutionism’ in current interdisciplinary research, development and innovation settings; (2) that social science contributes value via the ideas it brings to life to challenge dominant power dynamics and (3) that social scientific imagination and practice is a valuable long‐term investment to both mitigate risk but also embrace socioenvironmental opportunities as we face ongoing sustainability crises into the future. Second, we identify future research considerations arising within the field, sitting at the intersection of social science and agricultural sociotechnical transitions. Our insights relate to challenges and opportunities to ‘do’ social science within the context of contemporary and nascent transitions such as increasing digitalisation. Researchers trained in social science theory and practice can make distinctive contributions to agri‐food innovation processes by making social stakes visible and by advancing inclusive processes of research policy and technology design.
Simon Fielke
added an update
Farm advisors amid the transition to Agriculture 4.0: Professional identity, conceptions of the future, and future‐specific competencies -
“We're out, so wtf do we do now?”: Brexit and rural identity in the era of online agricultural communities -
Reflecting on opportunities and challenges regarding implementation of responsible digital agri-technology innovation -
Good intentions in complex realities: Challenges for designing responsibly in digital agriculture in low-income countries -
Innovating digitally: The new texture of practices in agriculture 4.0 -
More (and polished versions of these where access is possible) to come although these may be relevant to special issues underway Laurens Klerkx , Simone van der Burg :-)
Regards,
Simon
 
Simon Fielke
added an update
The first paper from this VSI has been online for a while now, but the COVID delayed call for papers has now closed and more papers are on the way soon...
The first one is open access and thanks to Hannah Barrett and David Christian Rose -
Such work will be relevant to further the critical mass of scholarship building through subsequent relevant special issues of Agricultural Systems (https://www.journals.elsevier.com/agricultural-systems/call-for-papers/responsible-innovation-in-smart-farming-novel-approaches) and Sustainability (https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/special_issues/Responsible-AgriFood).
 
Simon Fielke
added an update
Sociologia Ruralis is looking for papers for a new Virtual Special Issue on the quest for responsible digital agri-food innovation
Critical dates
VSI extended abstract deadline – 1 September 2020
Recommendation on extended abstract received by 30th September 2020
VSI full paper submission portal closes – 31 December 2020
VSI paper publication complete – June 2021
 
Simon Fielke
added an update
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRSA congress has been postponed for the foreseeable future. This is obviously understandable given the circumstances.
The editorial team plan to continue with the timeline set out in our special issue proposal:
VSI extended abstract deadline – 1 July 2020 (can be submitted anytime from now)
Feedback on VSI extended abstract provided – 1 September 2020
VSI paper submission portal opens – 1 September 2020 (hopefully sooner once extended abstracts are reviewed)
VSI paper submission portal closes – 31 December 2020
Publication of first VSI papers – February 2021 (possible online sooner)
VSI paper publication complete – June 2021
The extended abstracts should be a maximum of 2 pages (excluding references) and should be sent, along with any enquiries, to the corresponding editor (simon.fielke@csiro.au) by the 1 st of July 2020.
The extended abstract should contain:
• Title (tentative at least)
• Theoretical positioning/contribution to the field
• Research question/s with explanation of connection to the VSI
• Methods employed
• Main (tentative at least) findings
 
Simon Fielke
added an update
Our associated virtual special issue is now confirmed, see link below and document attached.
Extended abstracts due 1st July 2020.
 
Simon Fielke
added a research item
Digitalisation is widely regarded as having the potential to provide productivity and sustainability gains for the agricultural sector. However, there are likely to be broader implications arising from the digitalisation of agricultural innovation systems. Agricultural knowledge and advice networks are important components of agricultural innovation systems that have the potential to be digitally disrupted. In this paper, we review trends within agricultural knowledge and advice networks both internationally and in Australia, to anticipate and prepare for potential transformations in these networks. Through a combined structured and traditional review of relevant literature, we come to three key conclusions regarding the state-of-the-art. First, the connectivity of humans and technologies in agricultural knowledge and advice networks and value chains will likely continue to increase. Second, transparency of agricultural practices and informational interaction between farmers, advisors, agri-businesses, consumers and regulators will drive and be driven by growing connectivity. Finally, there are likely to be challenges balancing the priorities of various agricultural stakeholders as agricultural innovation systems digitalise. These findings have implications for the oversight of international agri-food sectors.
Simon Fielke
added an update
 
Simon Fielke
added a project goal
The race toward agriculture 4.0 has begun – with nations and corporations clamouring to claim their market share in the agtech startup space – both within nation-states and across traditional sovereign borders. This session proposal will provide space to question the institutional logics of the international digitalisation of agricultural innovation systems.
We invite colleagues to draw on rural sociology and agricultural social science to ground respective empirical insights.For example, how do we anticipate the implications of the automation of agricultural supply chain decision-making in restructuring the agri-food sector – what happens to rural communities when farms become farmerless?
How do we be inclusive of diverse viewpoints in the design process for new agricultural technologies to maintain trust – how do we weigh up technological development and risks to agricultural stakeholders’ social licence to operate?
How do we incorporate reflexivity in the evaluation of agtech platform development – how do we make the most of socio-technical investments in digital agriculture to create new rural economies while mitigating risk?
How do we respond to data privacy and governance issues as agro-industrialisation takes the form of big data analytics through machine learning in the agri-food sector – what is the value of food (or data) from ‘somewhere’ in a digital future or are we just mining different agri-‘cultures’?
Relevant and rigorously researched empirical and conceptual papers are invited. These papers will build on momentum from initial scholarly exploration explicitly examining the societal implications of digital agriculture and/or smart farming at the International Farming Systems Association symposium in Chania (2018) and the European Society for Rural Sociology in Trondheim (2019).