In a Double Bind
MetadataShow full item record
This research is an ethnographic account of contemporary Dutch dairy farming and is the outcome of three months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands among dairy farmers. Dutch dairy farmers currently face a paradoxical situation caused by conflicting socio-economic demands. Their experiences of being food producers within contemporary changing global capitalism, which is organized by national and global ecological sustainability challenges, can be described as a double bind. To sustain their livelihood, dairy farmers are seeking alternative opportunities as respond to the paradox. They manage to do so, based on what I describe as their boerenverstand, or farmers’ knowledge. Their boerenverstand is embedded in practical as well as scientific knowledge and empowers them to determine for themselves which new agricultural developments are functioning and which are not. In addition, their exclusive knowledge is organized by their understanding of time in terms of recurrence, progress, and development. However, this notion of time is not in with the Dutch government’s vision on change and transition within the dairy sector. As a result, the different temporal horizons of the dairy farmers and the Dutch government has evoked an impasse in expectations of agricultural development and change. In short, this research describes Dutch dairy farmers’ orientations in the double bind between productivity and ecological sustainability.