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Jan Douwe van der Ploeg: a short cv

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Jan Douwe van der Ploeg: a short CV

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (1950) is currently holding the chair of Transition Processes at Wageningen University. Previously he hold the chair for Rural Sociology. He has been member, for eight years, of the Council for the Rural Areas. At European level he participated, a.o. in the Rural Development Conferences at Cork and Salzburg.

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg graduated as agricultural engineer at Wageningen University. His first work experience was in Peru (where he was involved in the land reform process), Colombia (formation of rural cooperatives) and in Guinea Bissau (construction of rural water supply services). In the early 1980's he designed a multidisciplinary research program that focussed on the complex and often contradictory relations between farming and markets. This research was carried out in Italy and Peru and formed the bases for his doctoral thesis published by Westview Press as Labour, Markets and Agricultural Production.

At Wageningen University, van der Ploeg developed with his colleagues a new theoretical approach that made it possible to understand the impressive and multi-dimensional heterogeneity of European agriculture - conceptualized in terms of farming styles. It identifies the emergence of new developmental trajectories and the heterogeneous (re-) moulding of nature as expressed in fields, animals, plant varieties and food. This new approach was used in a vast comparative research program that explored endogenous development practices in the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

The attention for heterogeneity and endogenous development patterns translated, in the early 1990's in an increased interest in new forms and patterns of rural development. It was shown, in a range of publications (Renewing the Countryside, 1997, and Living Countrysides: Rural development Processes in Europe - the State of Art, 2002; both published by Elsevier) that rural development practices are wide spread and promising phenomena, that entail considerable potential for revitalizing the rural economy.

In the NWO program AGRINOVIM, supervised by van der Ploeg, a strategic feature of rural development is analyzed in detail. That is: novelty production and niche management.

Recently, van der Ploeg published 'The Virtual Farmer' (2003; Royal van Gorcum). In this study it is argued that knowledge on agriculture as produced and accumulated by expert systems such as universities and ministries of agriculture, is increasingly at odds with reality. Thus, the implementation of this knowledge in different domains of agrarian and rural policy increasingly triggers a range of frictions and new contradictions.

Jan Douwe van der Ploeg is actively involved in several farmers' initiatives (as the new 'environmental cooperatives' in the Netherlands) that try to go beyond the boundaries as imposed by the reigning expert systems.



Tel: +31 317 483253

Fax: +31 317 485475

Address: Hollandseweg 1, 6706KN Wageningen, Netherlands

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