Lisette Nikol: Conceptual gaps in linking the social and the material

Alternative agriculture movements and engaged scholars propose farmer autonomy as mechanism to improve food and livelihood security of small farmers who disproportionately experience the injustices inherent to the global, capitalist industrialised agri-food system. Critical, systematic research on whether / how autonomy is possible and improves farmer livelihoods is remarkably scarce. Addressing this research gap entails addressing conceptual shortcomings resulting from the limited use of insights from Critical Agrarian Studies and STS/Technography.

How to position integrative research

In my research proposal the integrative, interdisciplinary character results ‘organically’ from the research problem and my own academic training. This ‘organic integration’ eases several aspects of proposal writing, but it also poses challenges. How to position the integrative and interdisciplinary character of the proposal in the context of the social sciences? Are the connections between empirical/ conceptual understandings from different disciplines, so natural and given in my view, well established and explicit enough? How to deal with potential conceptual contradictions or discrepancies?
In my presentation, I will address how I solved some of these challenges and pose others as dilemmas for joint discussion.