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Agricultural holdings: hindsight and foresight


  • Laurent, Catherine
  • Rémy, Jacques


In France, the concept of the agricultural holding is a result of a lengthy social construction in which the stages in classification and statistical work have proceeded in tune with the major political struggles and social debates of the 19th and 20th centuries. Some people argue that the “ agricultural holding ” is now just a term revived from the past for the modern “ agricultural enterprise ”. Sociologists and economists therefore need to reconsider the significance and relevance of this concept. The diversity of the ways of practising agricultural activities encountered in French households shows that the economic and social realities referred to in this concept are far too varied for its use in defining a productive sector having an institutional existence. Neither can it be used to demark the social groups that will be entitled to benefit from the support measures of agricul-tural and rural development policies. As a basic statistical unit, however the concept of the agricultural holding can provide a com-mon basic unit for measuring agricultural activity, and the land used for this activity, thereby permitting the integration of results concerning the different functions of agricultural activity (production, natural resource management, land use, socio-economic cohesion, etc.). From this angle, the statistical notion of the agricultural holding as presently defined is of increasing interest for the management of new agricultural and rural policies and for social sciences research.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent, Catherine & Rémy, Jacques, 1998. "Agricultural holdings: hindsight and foresight," MPRA Paper 21863, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:21863

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Catherine Laurent & Stéphane Cartier & Camille Fabre & Patrick Mundler & Danièle Ponchelet & Jacques Rémy, 1998. "L'activité agricole des ménages ruraux et la cohésion économique et sociale," Économie rurale, Programme National Persée, vol. 244(1), pages 12-21.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, 2016. "Family farming in Europe and Central Asia: history, characteristics, threats and potentials," Working Papers 153, International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth.
    2. Anseeuw, Ward & Laurent, Catherine & Modiselle, Salome & Carsten, Johan & van der Poll, Sakkie, 2001. "Diversity of the rural farming households and policy issues: an analysis based on a case study in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa," MPRA Paper 23768, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Labarthe, Pierre & Laurent, Catherine, 2013. "Privatization of agricultural extension services in the EU: Towards a lack of adequate knowledge for small-scale farms?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 240-252.
    4. Hill, Berkeley, 2005. "Institutional Units and Agricultural Statistics," 94th Seminar, April 9-10, 2005, Ashford, UK 24410, European Association of Agricultural Economists.

    More about this item


    Knowledge; agricultural statistics; agricultural holding; history of concepts; multifunctionality;

    JEL classification:

    • N50 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • B49 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Other
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development


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