21 February 2017

Reading Summaries (4): Race, Culture, and Practice

Objectives of Henson & Munsey’s (2014) article is to correlate changes in residential segregation dynamics over a 50-year period with the social processes of isolation (black isolation from white and white isolation from black) in Birmingham, Alabama. On the other word, this study illustrated the spatial distribution of cultural attitudes and the relationality of space and the effect of segregation on that relationality. According to Cultural Capital approach from Bourdieu, Space is made up of the material flow of money and people/bodies. The processes and flows produce and reproduce racialized spaces (racial isolation and economic accumulation) in the real world. 

Cultural Capital, particularly in racial capitals or spatialized social structure in Birmingham, are developed by the three primary positions of the structure; the first is wealthy White, the second is middle-class and low-income Whites and the third position is Black. Internalization of this social position (that shapes the behavior of particular social agents) is known as Habitus concept. It operates in fields in which agents of differing social position use their capital to struggling over a particular resource (p. 999). Using urban geography methods (Geographic Information System/GIS analysis of segregation, participant observation in the alternative food meetings, and In-depth interview with leaders or important actors in the food movement, civic, and business leader) the study shows that the dominant habitus in Birmingham’s local food and agriculture movement is racialized White, which they dominate the philanthropic and non-profit sector in Birmingham.
It was interesting to analyze the dialectical relationship between habitus and space in the context of social and spatial segregation. Different to Green et. al article before which focuses on the resiliency of black farmer’s livelihood system in southern America (power relation approach), Henson & Munsey’s are more concentrate on the relationship between space, culture, and practice in the urban movement/community context. This article is excellence because they can deliver a detailed visualization about social segregation in the urban areas during a long period/processes. Reading this paper is a great exercise to understand “community structure” in the different lenses (post-modern theory and urban geography).

original article:

picture: here

17 February 2017

Reading Summaries (3): Technoscience in Agriculture

http://geography.name/actor-network-theory/The country-based case studies of commodity systems are the interesting approach to the contemporary research of global agrifood system. From Tanaka’s et. al (2010) and MSU-SAGT contributions, We also learn that the power of nation-state in the liberal market is not only arisen from the economic, politics, and capital force but also from knowledge and technology (knowledge-based economy). Just as the power of knowledge diffusion requires a better understanding of the knowledge-based networks (OECD, 1996) so that ANT and CSA approach are very helpful to trace linkages from one dimension to another.

Tanaka & Juska’s (2010) article illustrated the early phase of the Michigan State University School of Agrifood, Governance, and Technoscience (MSU-SAGT) featured research in the 1990s. This paper is similar to Bonano’s article (2009) about the history of the Missouri School but had had different emphasis and approach to the MSU-SAGT field research. MSU-SAGT is one of the best practices for research combination and implementation of Commodity System Analysis (CSA), which delineated by Friedland (1984), and Actor Network Theory (ATN), which described by Latour (1987), in the case study of rapeseed market globalization (Canada, Japan, US, Europian, China, and India). This paper not only discusses and systematically examine the significant change of the rapeseed commodity system but also provided a critical understanding of governance as the process and mechanism of the network and power distribution among actors. 

By the “simple” methodology that so-called “follow the actor,” their research following a given actor (a commodity in CSA and technoscience product in ANT) and analyze the transformation process, including human and nonhuman interaction. The purposes of this approach are to open the rules of the game and the invisible hand within actors network by investigating and examining their power relation. MSU-SAGT also emphasized the critical role of technoscience politics (interdependence of technologies and scientific knowledge) by comparing the networks, actors, and symmetry that change over time and differ across space.  Meanwhile ANT, as a research tool, focuses on the processes and practices of scientist, technicians, and engineers that constituted the capacity of technoscience in the agrifood system, CSA focus to follow a given commodity from production to consumption and investigate how economic and political activities have become increasingly globalized.
Original Article: 

Reflections on the Contributions of the MSU School of Sociology of Food and Agriculture


14 February 2017

Brief Reflection on Stability and Change in the Sustainable Community Development

Social relations among community fields is never static. Change is happening everywhere, sometimes intentional but often unplanned. The rates of change also vary from community to community. There are also various causes of changes in the community; environmental factors, culture, social movement, conflict, technology, diffusion of information, need for adaptation, and so on. Theoretically, community system has a dual structure. One side is designed for evaluation and change. The other hand is designed for stability, for regular performance, and for predictability (Cook, 1994). When these two sides interact, tension is usually experienced between them.
Stability can be defined at the ecosystem level and the species level. Variation among species in their response to such fluctuation is an essential requirement for ecosystem stability. Evidence from multiple ecosystems suggests that biological diversity acts to stabilize ecosystem functioning in the face of environmental change (Cleland, 2011). Similar to this ecosystem theory, recent social research also has found that diversity and integrity of social, ecological and economic aspects of the system are essential for sustainable community development (Dale & Sparkes, 2010).

09 February 2017

Reading Summaries (2): The Neoliberal Food Regime

The most significant factor in the globalization of agriculture and food is national and international regulation for trade liberalization. We need a theorization of state-facilitated reorganization into Neoregulation because Neoliberal globalism are depends centrally on the state to play a central role in neoliberal ideology. Furthermore, Pechlaner & Otero also hypothesize that the globalization of agriculture and food will be tempered not only by the differential interests and abilities of the individual nation-state but also by the resistance to Neoregulation that arise within them (p. 182). The authors offer an empirical analysis of Neoregulation using the food-regime perspective in the three countries of NAFTA: the United States, Canada, and Mexico. 

According to McMichael (2004), the basis of the neoliberal food regime is centered on the political elimination of barriers to capital in social and natural relations (p. 183). This concept is coherence with the goals of NAFTA and WTO to the trade liberalization and promoting free trade internationally. However, in the conclusion of this article, the transnational mobilization also depends on the sociopolitical dynamics at the local and national level that could limit the activity of WTO. From another point of view, this article has different emphasis, not only focus on the global food politics but also acknowledge the tension in the formation of the third contemporary food regime;
  • food security vs. food sovereignty,
  • WTO vs. Via Campesina,
  • the centrality of knowledge intensive technology (genetic engineering/GE) vs. protections to the small-holder agricultures,
  • high-value agricultural goods in developing countries vs. food vulnerability and its resistance at the level of the nation-state, and
  • uniform rules for all vs. protectionism.

In the context of colonization and the relation of power (Foucaldian perspectives), it is clear that liberal capitalism/neoliberal ideology are zero-sum-games. The United States and Canada were the winners in NAFTA and Mexico as the developing/poor countries are the losers. This system empirically reformulated the colonial formations. On the other word, Neoliberalism is another name of Neocolonialism itself.

Gerardo Otero on the Journal of Poverty (2011) also wrote about “Mexico Lost of Food and Labor Sovereignty.” He underlined the most important point in his article that Mexico’s asymmetrical integration into the NAFTA had a detrimental impact on its food self-sufficiency, its labor sovereignty, and substantially increased its out-migration rates. How can we explain the future economic and political relationship between Mexico and the US under current presidency, particularly on “building wall” policy to reduce the “illegal” migration/worker? Where is the position of Canada at this political tension?

source of picture: click here

Reading Summaries (1): Agricultural Development and Black Farmers in the American South

“From the past to the present” paper’s exploring the history and social change processes of black farmers’ livelihood system in the south of America, especially those in the Mississippi Delta region. Green at.al was analyzing through the structural/power relation approach to describe the inequality and limited access in pursuing more sustainable livelihoods. Just as the means of production and labor control are important factors, so the resiliency of black farmer’s livelihood system in southern America is influenced by the structural condition in which they embedded. In the context of power relations, black farmers have traditionally been at a disadvantage and defined as being less worthy than white farmers by their class, gender, race, ethnicity, and ownership. By the slavery, tenancy, sharecropping, and the crop-lien system, the elite white continued control over labor in the past. This fact reminds us that the land ownership is the most valuable resource for the sustainable livelihood.

However, we must also consider to the complexities faced by the specific structure of agriculture, family farming, and farmers’ group. For instance, black producers faced more challenges to their livelihoods system during the capital-intensive system in agriculture (1920-1970). A variety of discrimination preventing them to participating in and access to government agricultural program. On the other hand, the state has not provided an adequate protection and assistance for black producers. This structural forms of discrimination illustrate the challenges they have faced over the generation. To survive and achieve greater livelihood security and sustainability, then they have had to mobilize and organizing efforts from the grassroots (self-help associations, cooperatives, and alliance with civil rights initiatives). In short, exploring the history of black farmers in Mississippi allow us to more clearly articulate structural constraints on livelihood system and create an alternative strategy - community-based cooperatives, poor people’s cooperatives, Rural Coalition and so on - to overcome these challenges.

In my opinion (please correct me if I am wrong), Green et.al. analysis on the black producers in Mississippi and the “commodity systems analysis” by William H. Friedland, illustrated the early phase of the Missouri School featured research. In this period  (the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s) the Missouri School applying and emphasis on the structure of agriculture, migrant agricultural labor, and quality of life in rural communities. After this period, Heffernan and his group shifted their focus to the capital concentration in agri-food commodities (Bonanno, 2009). At this point, I understand why Bonanno said that the Missouri School had brought a tradition and ideas rooted in the heartland of the United States to the global forum.

source of picture: click here
- yanu prasetyo -

29 December 2016

Digital Divide: Inequality and Alienation on the Era of Digital Democracy

Digital technology revolution is changing the future of the world. Although digital technology has reduced the barriers of time and distance, at the same time it also producing the so-called “digital divide,” which is another form of inequality. There are two levels of the digital divide; the first level is the lack of access to IT and the second level is inequality in the utilization of these technologies. This paper analyzes various forms of the digital divide, especially from the aspect of socio-demographic variables and their impact on democracy and politics in the era of mass society. A literature review shows that digital technology is changing the democracy and its study; internet use for politics is also not equal depending on skills and motivational factors; and its affects how religious communities change their perceptions regarding the use of the Internet and negotiate the discrepancy between their needs and its advantages.Technological alienation comes to be an increasingly dominant description of capitalist society as a whole. In technological alienation, human beings are not only dominated by the commodities they produce, but also by their instruments of production, including digital technology (Internet).

Keywords: Digital Divide, Democracy, Inequality, Alienation, Technophobia, Technophilia

24 December 2016

Rethinking Community: Places, Rituals, and Social Relations

“Community” is a word that pleasant to be felt. For myself, there is a good feeling, sense, and imagination when hearing community. I feel like being part of something that completes me as a human being. Hearing these words may bring our imagination on things that are interesting in our lives, such as the place where we were born, the family where we grew up, the school where we meet playmates, a religion in which we hold, and to the work that we enjoy being surrounded by peoples that have in common with us. This word brings us to the places and people with all the different routine and ritual. Our relationship with the place, people, and environment subsequently continue to shape our identity today and in the future.

A.  Community, Place, and Technology

Communities often refer to the group of people in a particular place. For example, people who live in a small town, rural, urban, churches, mosques, schools and places in other physical association. The shared sense of place involves relationships with people, culture, and environment (Flora, 2016:14). The sense of community that inherent to the place defined by some sociologists, such as Robert Park, Earnest Burgess, Roderick McKenzie, and Louis Wirth from the Chicago School of Social Ecology. Their early work, which was published in 1925, examines the urban settlement of the City of Chicago. They provided the simplest possible description of a community as a collection of people occupying a more or less clearly defined area, but a community is more than that. A community is not only a collection of people, but it is a collective of institutions. Not people, but institutions, are final and decisive in distinguishing the community from other social constellations (Halsall, 2014:93).  

04 December 2016

Observing Social Life in the Small Town Midwest

Julianne Couch Book’s Review (2016)

“Where do you live?” and “how long you have lived here?” are the two questions for establishing one’s local community status. Responses are often dichotomized as those of newcomer versus native (hunter, 2014:85-99). Studying our hometown, like Julianne’s book, may give a researcher some benefits; familiarity, empathy, trust, access, and legitimation. In her books, she tried to describe how to make a living life in the small town Midwest which has psychological and sociological ties with her personal life. She often moved from one city to the other in the Midwest area for the reasons of family and work, so she called herself comes from “Wyo-wA,” that mean, “Wyoming-Iowa.” Familiarity makes the author’s insider knowledge led to both understanding and deeper access to the community.

Observation and interview conducted by Julianne into every small town belonging to the category of the frontier and remote (FAR) in her book have found many interesting things. Although all of this small town with a population fewer than 4,000 people was look similar, infact, they have specific problems which differ from one another. There is a small town which suddenly being depopulated due to the closure of industry and college which was experienced by Tarkio, a small town in the Missouri. There is a small town that has so many natural amenities but unincorporated and isolated like Centennial in Wyoming or Knox County in Nebraska. There is also a small town that has a relatively vibrant rural life like two small towns along the Mississippi River: Bellevue, with their vibrant tourism in Iowa and New Madrid, with their ethnicity diverse and fascinating geological history in Missouri.

21 November 2016

Resensi Buku : Bernie Sanders dan Masa Depan Politik Amerika

“He’s not moving party to the left. He’s moving a generations to the left”

Pemilihan presiden Amerika Serikat (AS) tidak hanya menghasilkan fenomena Donald Trump sebagai presiden terpilih, tetapi juga menjadi panggung bagi kemunculan politisi liberal paling berpengaruh di AS saat ini : Bernie Sanders. Senator dari Vermont yang sudah berusia tujuh puluh lima tahun ini adalah fenomena ekstrem dan tidak biasa dalam perpolitikan Amerika. Bukan saja karena ia hanya dianggap sebagai kuda hitam, melainkan juga karena gagasan dan pemikirannya yang sama sekali berbeda dengan arus utama di AS. Pemikirannya memang khas liberal yang mendukung sepenuhnya hak-hak dan kebebasan individu, akan tetapi gagasannya di bidang ekonomi dan politik justru mencerminkan pandangan sosialis atau kiri. Bahkan, gerakan protes anti-Trump yang masih marak di berbagai kota di AS selepas hasil pemilu kemarin juga tak lepas dari pengaruh seorang Bernie.

Suara kerasnya dalam menentang oligarki elit politik amerika dan kerakusan segelintir korporasi besar, yang ia sebut dengan “the 1 percent”, itu telah membuat merah telinga status quo di AS. Bukan hanya itu, ia juga mengkampanyekan “health care for all”, “making higher education affordable”, kritik kerasnya pada media yang lebih banyak menjual gosip daripada mengabarkan permasalah riil bangsa Amerika, sampai dengan kegigihannya mendukung kampanye perubahan iklim telah memberi warna ideologis yang berbeda dalam Pilpres AS. Gagasannya memang terasa ganjil di kalangan mapan dan elit, akan tetapi ia mendapat dukungan yang sangat luas dari generasi muda AS. Hasilnya, ia memenangi dua puluh dua negara bagian, mendapatkan 1,3 juta suara yang mayoritas anak muda dan hampir saja mengalahkan Hillary dalam perebutan tiket presiden dari partai Demokrat. Kejutan dan prestasi yang bukan main-main.

15 November 2016

Kota, Budaya dan Bencana

Yanu Endar Prasetyo
pasundan ekspres, 15 November 2016

Masa depan peradaban manusia berada di Kota. Sebab, pada tahun 2030 nanti, lebih dari enam puluh persen penduduk dunia akan tinggal di perkotaan. Oleh karena itu, jika salah dalam merencanakan dan mengelola kota akan berujung pada bencana dan krisis multidimensi yang berkepanjangan. Isu-isu yang berkembang dalam pembangunan kota ini tentu saja bervariasi antar negara. Untuk negara maju seperti Amerika Serikat misalnya, isu penting saat ini adalah soal integrasi penduduk dan komunitas (akibat banjir imigran dan masalah rasial), tingginya kriminalitas (akibat bebasnya kepemilikan senjata api), dan ketimpangan ekonomi (meningkatnya pengangguran dan tunawisma). Bagi negara seperti Indonesia yang sedang bertumbuh pesat kota-kota metropolitannya, isu utama perkotaan adalah seputar kepastian rencana tata ruang (kepentingan publik versus privat, industri versus pertanian), akses dan kualitas transportasi publik, lingkungan (pengelolaan sampah, drainase, ruang terbuka hijau, banjir) serta ketimpangan ekonomi penduduk yang makin menganga.
Jika ditelusur secara sosiologis, unsur-unsur pembentuk masalah perkotaan itu pada akhirnya kembali kepada karakteristik kapital masing-masing wilayah atau negara. Flora (2013) membagi kapital ini ke dalam tujuh bentuk yang mempengaruhi perkembangan suatu wilayah menjadi urban, yaitu social capital, cultural capital, human capital, natural capital, financial capital, political capital dan built capital. Namun demikian, masalah perkotaan muncul dari perpaduan berbagai sumber daya kapital tersebut. Kompleks dan tidak sederhana untuk diuraikan, apalagi diselesaikan. Faktor sosial budaya (cultural and social capital) masyarakat menjadi sangat penting dan utama untuk digarap. Budaya ini menyangkut tata nilai, identitas, hingga gaya hidup dan perilaku sehari-hari. Memahami budaya masyarakat perkotaan ini menjadi kunci untuk memilih pendekatan pembangunan kota yang tepat. Dengan memahami budaya ini pula isu-isu sensitif seputar penataan kota, kebersihan sungai, penggurusan, pemukiman, pusat bisnis, ruang terbuka hijau, kawasan industri, kemacetan dan lain-lain diharapkan dapat dilakukan secara lebih humanis dan beradab.

05 November 2016

Community as a Psychological Reality

Mary F. Rousseau’s Book Review 

Yanu Endar Prasetyo
"Be what you is, because If you be what you ain’t, then, you ain’t what you is"

Community is a term that we often hear and read in the literature of social sciences. However, the sense of community can be very diverse depending on the viewpoint of the thinker. One of the books of philosophy that dissects the sense of community was written by Mary F. Rousseau from Marquette University, entitled "Community: The Tie that Binds". In the beginning of her book, Rousseau started her discussion on community with the linguistic approach (etymology) of the community, then, observed the empirical significance of the community inhuman existence, human relations and social groups that are more complex. The important answer about the tie that binds us as a community can be decomposed in a logical and empirical study of Rousseau's.

26 October 2016


Opini Media Indonesia

Oleh : Yanu Endar Prasetyo
Peneliti LIPI, PhD Student di University of Missouri, USA

Teori sosial dan politik yang umum dipelajari hari ini, sebagian besar merupakan warisan pemikiran dari revolusi industri yang berlangsung sekitar 2 abad lalu. Jarang disadari bahwa gelombang revolusi berikutnya yang lebih dahsyat sedang berlangsung saat ini. Revolusi ini diyakini akan mengubah serta melahirkan teori dan praktik sosial baru yang mungkin belum pernah terprediksikan sebelumnya. Revolusi yang memiliki dampak sangat luas dan dalam pada peradaban manusia. Gelombang perubahan inilah yang disebut dengan revolusi digital. Ditandai dengan kehadiran internet yang massif dan perlahan menggantikan berbagai perangkat teknologi jadul sebelumnya. Hampir semua teknologi analog tinggal menjadi kenangan. Radio, televisi, koran dan media konvensional lain pun sudah diambang sakarotul maut digulung oleh google dan youtube.

Gilardi (2016), dalam penelitian terbarunya tentang “digital democracy”, menjelaskan dengan gamblang tentang bagaimana teknologi digital ini juga mempengaruhi proses demokrasi itu sendiri. Mobilisasi politik, strategi kampanye, polarisasi opini publik, hingga perangkat dan saluran tata kelola pemerintahan pun mulai berubah. Tidak hanya di Barat, melainkan juga di belahan dunia manapun dimana teknologi digital mulai mendominasi. Tidak hanya pada praktik politik dalam demokrasi kontemporer, revolusi teknologi digital ini juga secara langsung telah mempengaruhi bagaimana ilmu-ilmu sosial direproduksi dan disebarluaskan. Big data, sains kompleksitas, crowd sourcing, mesin pembelajaran baru, hingga kurikulum ilmu sosial di berbagai perguruan tinggi rujukan dunia pun turut beradaptai dengan revolusi digital ini. Demokrasi digital adalah era baru dalam sejarah manusia sekaligus masa depan dunia itu sendiri.
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