Franklin Halverson: Threshing
Franklin Halverson: Threshing

Written Assignment #4
Industrialization of Agriculture


Historically, there has been a shift in agriculture from most of the work being done by hand to a capital intensive system dependent upon the use of machinery, high inputs, and high technology. In other words, there has been a shift from labor to capital. The readings for Assignment #4 consist of articles that have appeared in the Des Moines Register concerning the advantages and disadvantages of capital intensive agriculture, and the role of capital in future agricultural production practices.

Suggestions for Completing Homework Assignment #4

In answering the questions for this assignment, consider how this topic might best be placed within the context of the sociological perspective. From structure-function theory, this topic most closely relates to the adaptation function of a society. One might ask, for example, "What is the optimal structure for agricultural production? Under what type of production system does American society, as a whole, most benefit?" If you choose to view this topic from a Marxian perspective, you will want to identify the dominant and secondary segments of the agricultural production system. Ask, for example, "Who is in position to exploit resources from whom? How might different approaches to agricultural production benefit the power elite?" If you choose to view this topic from the perspective of symbolic interactionism, you might want to explore the meaning of "agriculture." What is agriculture all about--food production only--or more?

In addition to considering capital-intensive agriculture from a sociological perspective, we will discuss as well alternative perspectives on the structure of agriculture.

Articles to read for Assignment #4 Written Assignment #4

This assignment is worth 20 points. Please limit your comments to five pages. Your paper should not summarize the material in the assigned readings; rather, it should use the information in the readings to answer the questions posed below.
  1. Select one of the three major theoretical perspectives to describe the important sociological issues of capital-intensive agriculture. How can this issue be placed within the context of sociology? What are the key social issues that need to be considered?

  2. Do family farms have to get big?

  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of industrialized agriculture?