A-10/14 Understanding farm succession as socially constructed endogenous cycles

European agriculture is experiencing a recruitment crisis that threatens the continuation of both family farming and associated rural communities. Conventionally, researchers and policymakers see farm succession as driven by discrete factors such as education level, farm size, profitability, enterprise type, and so on. This article offers an alternative perspective. Drawing on in‐depth interviews with 22 farm families in Scotland, it uses a single case‐study to outline the concept of endogenous succession cycles based on the iterative and interlinked development of successor identity and farm structure. In this way, succession is seen as predominantly socially constructed. We suggest that the key to succession lies in the development and maintenance of these endogenous cycles as, when they are broken or uninitiated, attracting a successor on to the farm is likely to be exceptionally difficult whatever the policy incentive. We conclude that the current crisis can partly be explained by the breakdown of early childhood socialisation, a key stage of the cycle, caused by changes to agriculture such as the use of larger machinery, more health and safety regulations, fewer farm workers, and so on. As a result, the process of constructing successor identities in early childhood through extended contact between the farmer, the child and the farm is becoming increasingly difficult. Sociologia Ruralis, DOI: 10.1111/soru.12055

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