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Where technology and agricultural society meet: Exploring the spaces and places of interaction (ROSED1U19SF)

Project Description

New technologies, including decision support tools, may contribute to the sustainable intensification of agriculture by improving productivity and efficiency. While much research has sought to increase the uptake of technologies in practice, largely by identifying desirable characteristics of system design, rather little work has used a spatial lens to investigate how they are actually used. Furthermore, while there are studies about how technology re-scripts, or changes, agricultural societies, these are generally concerned with macro-level impacts (e.g. labour changes), rather than exploring the farm-scale. The primary supervisor has been interested in research looking at how new technologies affect agricultural society, exploring the scales at which farming is changed by them. For example, new technologies can change what farming means to a farmer, and affect how they interact with the different spaces within their farm.

Applications are welcomed from candidates who wish to construct a project assessing the societal impact of new technologies at the farm-scale. Such projects are likely to involve a sustained period of fieldwork on-farm. The student will be trained in a variety of methods, learn new skills, and develop a range of transferable skills through this PhD studentship. They will also be at the cutting-edge of research assessing the potential impact of technologies on agricultural society; a topical, important issue.

Opportunities are also available for UK students, and others who are eligible for Research Council studentships, to apply for ESRC funding to work on similar topics in this area. Please see for more information and contact David Rose if you are eligible.

Applications are processed as soon as they are received and the project may be filled before the closing date, so early application is encouraged.

Project Start Date: Oct 2019
Mode of Study: Full-time
Acceptable First Degree: Geography, Environmental Science, History and Philosophy of Science, Science and Technology Studies, Agricultural Science, Agriculture, Sociology
Minimum Entry Requirements: UK 2:1

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at View Website.

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


1. Baldwin, C., Smith, T., and Jacobson, C. 2017. Love of the land: Social-ecological connectivity of rural landholders, Journal of Rural Studies 51: 37-52
2. Holloway, L., Bear, C. and Wilkinson, K. 2014. Robotic milking technologies and renegotiating situated ethical relationships on UK dairy farms, Agriculture and Human Values 31 (2): 185-199
3. Latour, B. 1992. Where are the missing masses? The sociology of a few mundane artifacts. In Shaping technology/building society, by W. E. Bijker and J. Law (eds), 225-58, Cambridge: MIT Press, USA
4. Latour, B. 1994. On technical mediation: Philosophy, sociology, genealogy, Common Knowledge 3:29-64
5. Rose, D.C., Sutherland, W.J., Parker, C., Lobley, M., Winter, M., Morris, C., Twining, S., Ffoulkes, C., Amano, T. and Dicks, L.V. 2016. Decision support tools for agriculture: Towards effective design and delivery. Agricultural Systems 149:165-174

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