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farming, type of

  A way of categorizing patterns of farm land-use which has been a staple feature of traditional agricultural geography (Tarrant, 1974). The objective was to produce systematic indices of trends over time and differences across space in agricultural activity, using farm census data to measure and map regional variations (see, for example, Coppock, 1976). Such classifications have been much criticized for the limited attention they pay to the socio-economic processes driving land-use change and, thus, their lack of explanatory grip on the patterns they describe. As a consequence, and despite the refinements brought to these classificatory procedures in the 1980s and 1990s by the application of geographical information systems and remote sensing techniques (Barnsley et al., 1997), they have become rather marginal to the research concerns of agricultural geography today.

However, under the influence of the political economy approaches which have come to dominate agricultural geography in the last decade or so geographers have put effort into developing more theoretically informed typologies of farm business organization to help explain variations and changes in farming practice. Such efforts engage with a long sociological tradition of farm typologies concerned with the class location of farmers and the relationship between the social organization of farming — land tenure; capital ownership; labour relations and family life-cycle — and the process of rural change (see, for example, Newby et al., 1978; Goss et al., 1980; Ghorayshi, 1986).

Geographical contributions to the development of these alternative theoretical and methodological approaches to farm typologies have emphasized the persistence and variety of forms of family farming and their role in the uneven development of capitalist agriculture (see, for example, Aitchison and Aubrey, 1982; What-more et al., 1987; Marsden et al., 1992). (SW)

References Aitchison, J. and Aubrey, P. 1982: Part-time farming in Wales: a typological study. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers NS 7: 88-97. Barnsley, M., Barr, S. and Tsang, T. 1997: Scaling and generalisation issues in land cover mapping. In P. van Gardingen, G. Foody and P. Curran, eds, Scaling-up: from cell to landscape. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Coppock, J.T. 1976: An agricultural atlas of England and Wales, 2nd edn. London: Faber and Faber. Ghorayshi, P. 1986: The identification of capitalist farms. Theoretical and methodological considerations. Sociologia Ruralis xxvi/2: 146-69. Goss, K., Rodefeld, R. and Buttel, F. 1980: The political economy of class structure in US agriculture: a theoretical outline. In F. Buttel and H. Newby, eds, The rural sociology of advanced societies: critical perspectives. London: Croom Helm, 83-132. Marsden, T., Munton, R. and Ward, N. 1992: Incorporating social trajectories into uneven agrarian development: farm businesses in upland and lowland Britain. Sociologia Ruralis 32: 408-30. Newby, H., Bell, C., Rose, C. and Saunders, P. 1978: Property, paternalism and power. London: Hutchinson. Tarrant, J. 1974: Agricultural geography. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. Whatmore, S., Munton, R., Little, J. and Marsden, T. 1987: Towards a typology of farm businesses in contemporary British agriculture. Sociologia Ruralis 28 (1): 21-37.



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