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Between words: a generational discussion about farming knowledge sources

Agricultural Communications Documentation Center (ACDC)
Wójcik, Marcin (main author), Jeziorska-Biel, Pamela (author), Czapiewski, Konrad (author)
Online journal article
Publication Date:
Poland: Science Direct
Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, Funk Library, University of Illinois
Subject Term:
communication methods, farmers, information flow, information needs, interviews, rural communities, rural development, social factors, family farm, community, cultural differences, rural living, European Union (EU), knowledge exchange, Poland (Europe), communication media, Generations, Knowledge-cultures, Post-communism, Qualitative methods, Sources of knowledge, agricultural knowledge, social innovation, multi-generational farms
12 pages., Via online journal., This article is concerned with the shaping of agricultural knowledge among farmers, in the context of the rapid changes Polish agriculture has been subject to since the time of the country's EU accession. The theoretical underpinnings of this work have been described in terms of the significant notional categories, i.e. knowledge, knowledge-cultures and sources of knowledge. The research made use of the joint interviews method. Interviews were run with representatives of different generations in 10 farming families in central Poland. The main research objective was to determine sources of farming knowledge among farmers. The use of joint interviews allowed for the identification of sources of knowledge of different kinds. These reflect a division into farmers' closer and more distant surroundings, i.e. to the family and neighbours on the one hand, and to institutions and media on the other. Knowledge acquisition among farmers is in fact found to be a complex process, reflecting socialisation in a multi-generation environment of family and neighbours, on the one hand, and the impact of the institutional and legal system, on the other. In a general sense, this corresponds to the well-known division of sources of knowledge into the tacit and the explicit, with the acquisition of tacit (i.e. informal) knowledge not meeting with any more major obstacles thanks to proximity in a sense that may be cultural (i.e. the agriculture itself), family-related (and in fact multi-generation) and spatial (physical proximity in a given locality). Microsocial conditioning thus plays a major role in the shaping of this source of knowledge. However, the most important factor distinguishing contemporary cultures as regards knowledge on farming is the capacity to adapt to conditions set by the institutions supporting the latter's development. Formal knowledge flowing into farming families from their institutional surroundings requires growing adaptability and preparation if a succession of innovations are to be taken on board. The multi-source nature of knowledge and the achievement of some kind of balance in this respect actually poses a major challenge for the future functioning of family farms as cultural microsystems.