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The Value of Qualitative Research in Assessing the Impacts and Implications of Changing Farmland Tenure Patterns in Alberta

Authors: Katherine Aske*,
Topics: Land Use, Qualitative Research, Agricultural Geography
Keywords: Alberta; qualitative research; farmland ownership; land grabbing; farmland concentration; investors
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Existing scholarship on land grabbing has been criticized for relying on quantitative methods that lead scholars to make sweeping claims based on a sense of ‘false precision’. There have been calls for increased nuance in research into changing farmland tenure patterns, and for more research in the global North. While this must come from meticulous analyses using quantitative data, it must also come from contextual qualitative research which can humanize what is happening on the ground at the community level. Utilizing the case study method, this paper draws on interviews with farmers and municipal officials in four regional municipalities across Alberta. This paper reveals the value of honing in on the nuances of the trends of investor farmland ownership and farmland concentration at the local level through qualitative research. It explains the extent to which the interviews were able to shed light on questions such as how labour regimes are changing, how the democratic functions of rural areas are impacted, local perceptions of the trends, and differences in farming practices. It also highlights the limitations experienced in gathering information through these interviews.

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