The Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) Group combines the domains of Development Sociology, Disaster Studies and Political Ecology. We study, teach and strive for meaningful societal impact on some of the biggest challenges of our time, including crises of inequality, conflict and humanitarian and natural disasters, as well as socio-political dimensions of climate change, biodiversity loss and land and water degradation. SDC takes a critical-constructive approach to these challenges with a strong interest in how structural political-economic forces intersect with the daily lives of people to inform development dynamics in rural as well as urban environments.
The Group has its origins in the Department of Agrarian Sociology of Non-Western Regions, founded in 1955 by Professor Rudi van Lier. In the 1980’s the Department, then headed by Professor Norman Long, changed its name to Rural Development Sociology and developed the actor-oriented approach, one of the perspectives of the internationally recognized tradition of the Wageningen School of Sociology. From 2002 to 2012 the group was led by Professor Leontine Visser. During this time, the Group strengthened its expertise on governance in developing countries, building on the Wageningen tradition in anthropology of law initiated by Professor Franz von Benda-Beckmann. Expertise on disaster and conflict was added to the Group with the chair Disaster Studies, created in 1997, to study the linkages between conflict, disaster and development.
Professor Bram Büscher has been leading SDC since 2014 and together with other new colleagues added political ecology to the group’s expertise. One of his main priorities has been to bring the various domains of the group together to do justice to the complex, multisided dimensions of global and local development dynamics in the 21st century.