Short marketing circuits: a return of the peasant actor?


agriculture is engaged in a process of profound reconfiguration that is transformingfarmers’ activities. The gradual reduction in productivity gains, the development of tariffs put in place by the institutions (PAC), the transformation of the sector into a semi-public sector due to the weight of subsidies and the various health crises (BSE, dioxin, etc.). ) have profoundly destabilized farmers. Among the ongoing transformations, one way is to intensify the conventional production and distribution model through volumes and high specialization. At the same time, for several years we have been witnessing the emergence of approaches which claim to be “alternative” to the “dominant” forms of production and marketing and which tend to renew the form of the market relationship in agriculture.

2Increasingly present in both media and political discourse, short food circuits are now the subject of growing attention within the agricultural profession. They sometimes correspond to the reactivation of old marketing methods that had been greatly reduced during the modernization period, such as direct sale at the farm or markets. They can also constitute very innovative forms of devices, such as basket delivery systems intended for consumers wishing to support local agriculture. Despite this diversity, they all constitute forms of exchange based on a rapprochement between producers and consumers. By drastically reducing commercial intermediaries, they call for new social, cognitive, even professional between the actors [Lanciano and Dumain, 2010]. By responding to a growing demand for local consumption, the development of short circuits would be part of a general movement to promote small-scale agriculture and would be a means of revitalizing the agricultural economy. These requests would in particular be likely to offer new opportunities for sustaining the activity and increasing farmers’ income for certain farms in difficulty, or which do not have the sufficient size to explore long distribution circuits. They would also facilitate a rapprochement between the “city” and the “countryside” and new commitments of agriculture in the territories. By responding to a growing demand for local consumption, the development of short circuits would be part of a general movement to promote small-scale agriculture and would be a means of revitalizing the agricultural economy. These requests would in particular be likely to offer new opportunities for sustaining the activity and increasing farmers’ income for certain farms in difficulty, or which do not have the sufficient size to explore long distribution circuits. They would also facilitate a rapprochement between the “city” and the “countryside” and new commitments of agriculture in the territories. By responding to a growing demand for local consumption, the development of short circuits would be part of a general movement to promote small-scale agriculture and would be a means of revitalizing the agricultural economy. These requests would in particular be likely to offer new opportunities for sustaining the activity and increasing farmers’ income for certain farms in difficulty, or which do not have the sufficient size to explore long distribution circuits. They would also facilitate a rapprochement between the “city” and the “countryside” and new commitments of agriculture in the territories. the development of short circuits would be part of a general movement to promote peasant agriculture and would be a way of revitalizing the agricultural economy. These requests would in particular be likely to offer new opportunities for sustaining the activity and increasing farmers’ income for certain farms in difficulty, or which do not have the sufficient size to explore long distribution circuits. They would also facilitate a rapprochement between the “city” and the “countryside” and new commitments of agriculture in the territories. the development of short circuits would be part of a general movement to promote peasant agriculture and would be a way of revitalizing the agricultural economy. These requests would in particular be likely to offer new opportunities for sustaining the activity and increasing farmers’ income for certain farms in difficulty, or which do not have the sufficient size to explore long distribution circuits. They would also facilitate a rapprochement between the “city” and the “countryside” and new commitments of agriculture in the territories. These requests would in particular be likely to offer new opportunities for sustaining the activity and increasing farmers’ income for certain farms in difficulty, or which do not have the sufficient size to explore long distribution circuits. They would also facilitate a rapprochement between the “city” and the “countryside” and new commitments of agriculture in the territories. These requests would in particular be likely to offer new opportunities for sustaining the activity and increasing farmers’ income for certain farms in difficulty, or which do not have the sufficient size to explore long distribution circuits. They would also facilitate a rapprochement between the “city” and the “countryside” and new commitments of agriculture in the territories.

3However, connections between producers and consumers are not necessarily easy. The reduction of intermediaries does not mean the disappearance of a commercial relationship between the two parties. It can imply the requirement of a greater availability of the farmer with regard to his new customers: capacity to answer the multiple injunctions of the customers, assimilation of the work space and the market space in the case of the sale at the farm, etc. Marketing in short circuits therefore leads to significant changes in agricultural activity and the organization of work, and ultimately in the profession of farmer.

4At the intersection of economic sociology and the sociology of work, our objective is to understand to what extent market relations intervene to modify the forms of engagement in a work activity and the forms of professional integration of the actors involved in it. participate. Specifically, through an exploratory study, the object is to show how short circuits (CC later) modify the forms of commitment and professional integration of farmers. It will be a question of knowing, with regard to their relation to activity and employment, if the farmers who market their production in CC participate in the resurgence of peasant agriculture, or if they open up alternatives of forms of engagement in agricultural activity. In the end, the conditions for which these farmers can constitute themselves as “subjects” [Touraine, 1992] and participate in a return of the peasant actor are sought.

5CC-oriented market gardening productions represent a favorable context of activity for understanding this issue. Indeed, market gardening farms have characteristics close to those described by the first works on farms specializing in CC sales [Chiffoleau, 2008]. These farms would be smaller in size but more labor intensive, with greater reliance on family labour.

6The first part shows how the CC can renew the question of the professional integration of farmers. To grasp these possible transformations, we propose to question the different professional figures through the analysis of the relationship to work and employment [Paugam, 2000]. The second part sets out to characterize the forms of commitment to work and the methods of professional integration of the CC market gardeners observed. The third part concludes on the existence of hybrid figures of engagement in agricultural activity. The CC would promote the development of reflexive capacities on the way market gardeners practice their profession. They would participate in a return of the peasant actor .

2 – Towards a multiplicity of forms of agricultural activity

7The sophistication of agricultural production techniques as well as agricultural policies favoring economies of scale have allowed the development of large hyperproductive farms and the emergence of more technical and managerial farmers. However, this movement is far from being unequivocal and, more than the emergence of a new profile of farmers, we seem to be witnessing the break-up of a model in favor of a multiplicity of forms of agriculture and design of agricultural activities by the farmers themselves.

2.1 – The superposition of agricultural figures

8Several indicators make it possible to account for the emerging configurations within agriculture today. First indicator, the importance of pluriactivity. Considered as an element of ancient rural societies, it is now at the heart of social and economic changes. The proportion of multi-active people in the family population of agricultural holdings is increasing, rising from 11.8% in 1963 to 20.3% in 2003. The same is true for holdings with at least one double -active (25.5% in 1979, 28.6% in 2000) [Boudy, 2009]. The second indicator relates to the persistence of small structures. Small units, according to the thresholds defined in 2001 by the Direction des affaires financiers? [2][2]“Within professional farms, the category…, represent 16% of “professional” farms and 35% of so-called “non-professional” farms. They are a significant issue for employment and contribute to the dynamics of territories [Rémy, 2007]. It is not a question of underestimating the extent of the restructuring of agriculture [Hervieu and Purseigle, 2009], but of taking a new look at these small farms which represent places of social innovation [Mouchet and Le Clanche, 2007]. Settlements outside the family, which are steadily increasing, constitute a third indicator of the transformations underway. In fact, almost a third of settlements in France take place outside the family framework, in other words by people who do not come from an agricultural background [Hervieu and Purseigle, 2008]. These facilities are characterized by their innovative and atypical nature, which implies the renewal of forms of support [Camou and Quelin, 2010]. Finally, another indicator corresponds to the boom in the sale of agricultural products in CC. The development of CCs is booming and is most often part of the implementation of alternative systems [Maréchal, 2008; Traversac, 2011]. In 2007, 15% of French farms practiced direct sales [Olivier-Salvagnac Traversac, 2011]. In 2007, 15% of French farms practiced direct sales [Olivier-Salvagnac Traversac, 2011]. In 2007, 15% of French farms practiced direct sales [Olivier-Salvagnacet al. , 2010]. This figure rises to 28% for farms producing vegetables. A large number of these vegetable farms specializing in CC are found in peri-urban areas [Ollagnon and Chiffoleau, 2008].

9The still partial data from the 2010 agricultural census [Agreste, 2011] confirm these trends as well as the development of organic farming and the increase in the production of foodstuffs with quality marks. A multiplicity of forms of agricultural activity is thus taking shape around pluriactivity, the practice of agriculture on small surfaces with innovative productions, and sale in CC with the search for development of sustainable agriculture. A diversity of operating modes of farms, practices and modes of representation of the activity reveal a diversity of agricultural figures.

10The work of Jacques Rémy shows the evolution of terminology according to the political, social and economic orientations of agriculture. The first figure is that of the peasant with “the coincidence of family and profession” [Rémy, 2008], but also belonging to a community, to a group [Mendras, 1967]. The second figure represents that of the professional farmer. This figure, promoted by the agricultural modernization laws of 1960 and 1962, is just as much a modelsocial (the family farm with 2 Human Labor Units (HU)) than an economic model: that of intensive specialized agriculture [Muller, 2009]. The third figure is that of the agricultural enterprise, of post-family exploitation. This representation, which was first of all that of the majority union, is recorded in the orientation law of 2006 [Rémy, 2010]. These three figures make it possible to account for the transformations of the trade, but they do not only follow one another, one is not replaced by the other, they are superimposed. These forms coexist today, but we also observe composite figures. Farmers draw on one or the other to develop their vision and their practice of the profession. Thus, some will define themselves as peasant entrepreneurs; they express a modern vision of the profession and their role in the region. They are close to the rural entrepreneurs described by P. Muller [art. cited, 2009]: some combine the processing of their products and their marketing, others combine agriculture and hospitality activities on the farm, and finally, a third category brings together farmers who combine agriculture, crafts and services.

2.2 – Short marketing circuits as a prism of the transformations of agricultural figures

11The forms of commercialization constitute a filter for apprehending the transformations of agricultural activity and figures. They include both the nature of the outlets that ensure the profitability of the farm and the farmer’s income, and the means implemented to satisfy them.

12The nature of outlets, the degree of dependence of the farmer on his customers, the method of fixing exchange prices are elements that directly affect the organization of work, working hours, income identified by the farmer and finally in the definition of the profession of farmer itself. Thus, what is there in the end in common between, on the one hand, a market gardener selling all of his crops to a single supplier who prescribes the characteristics of his production and assures him of regularity of orders and, on the other hand, a market gardener who multiplies CC marketing methods?

13In the first case, the farmer occupies a relatively weak place both in terms of redistribution of the added value of the product and of decision-making autonomy. He may consider himself deprived of contact with consumers by actors downstream in the sector [Dubuisson and Giraud, 2010]. On the other hand, depending on the terms of the negotiation, the regularity of the income can be ensured.

14Conversely, in the second case, the CCs are a way for the farmer to regain control over the management of the farm, keep his independence, and acquire a new autonomy in the work [Le Caro and Daniel, 2007]. The rapprochement with consumers and the resulting reduction of intermediaries involve mobilizing new tools and perhaps new skills to implement these new coordinations. It therefore leads the producer to move away from his traditional “field”, in the literal sense (to meet the consumer) as well as in the figurative sense (development of relational and commercial skills). Finally, these particular forms of marketing are likelyto redefine the hierarchy between spaces and social times allowed in the case of marketing to a single supplier. Thus, in the case of direct sale at the farm, living, working and market space tend to coincide. In the same way, working and exchange times can merge, for example, during the delivery of baskets.

2.3 – Forms of professional integration

15If they participate in modifying agricultural activity, do food CCs trigger the emergence of a new professional figure, or do they more simply make it possible to perpetuate the activity of farmers who had been marginalized by the development model promoted by the agricultural orientation laws of 1960 and 1962?

16Without favoring one or the other of these hypotheses, we propose to question the various professional agricultural figures through the analysis of the relationship to work and employment from the angle of professional integration. This is defined “as the double assurance of the material and symbolic recognition of work and the social protection that results from employment” [Paugam, 2000]. This framework of analysis thus takes into account the dual objective and subjective dimension of professional integration: “The relationship to work and the relationship to employment will be analyzed according to the objective constraints with which individuals are confronted, but also according to the meaning they give to their experiences. Thus, the relationship to work evokes the meaning given to work, the quality of work, self-esteem due to the social recognition linked to this quality of work. This is based on three dimensions: the performance of the work (homo faber ), the financial recognition of work ( homo oeconomicus ) and the social recognition of work provided ( homo sociologicus ). The relation to employment evokes the material security of the worker, capable or not of thinking about his future and projecting himself into the future.

17The different dimensions of the work of market gardeners are captured. The individual dimension appears insofar as forms of satisfaction of the actor are revealed. However, the collective dimension is not ignored. It appears particularly when reference is made to the different sociabilities engaged in at work. Finally, the relationships to income and employment give a good account of the nature of the economic and market relationships in which the work of market gardeners takes place. These dimensions, relationship to work and relationship to employment, are placed on the same level of analysis. Their terms of articulation will make it possible to describe various forms of professional integration and precariousness.

18The agricultural figures described by Jacques Rémy [Rémy, 2008] call for a differentiated relationship to work offering several ways of professional integration. Peasant agriculture reflects a “state of life” where philosophy and practices converge, where professional and family life are inseparable and where the local community remains the anchor of practices. Modern agriculture is characterized by the promotion of technology in the service of productivity and by spaces of socialization built around relatively homogeneous professional groups. Agricultural income is stable and constitutes the main income of the family;the objective is to maintain assets and develop income through investment and growth. Finally, entrepreneurial agriculture values ​​innovation and risk-taking to ensure the development of the business. It is built by relying on mixed elective networks. In this configuration, agricultural income is not the sole source of income for the household, which modifies the relationship to work in its economic dimension.

19In the same way, by producing new social coordinations, marketing CCs are likely to bring about renewed relationships with the work and employment of market gardeners.

Method  : We conducted qualitative surveys (semi-structured interviews recorded and transcribed) with 31 market gardeners, 16 in Brittany and 15 in Rhône-Alpes, selling all or part of their production in CC.The Rhône-Alpes region is the 1st 

region  for the number of farms marketing their production in CC, and also in the lead for the proportion of farmers engaged in organic farming [Agreste, 2011]. The Brittany region, France’s leading agricultural region, is characterized by the predominance of animal production and intensive farming. Commercialization in CC remains marginal [Agreste, 2011].For the two fields, the selection of respondents was made according to three criteria: the first concerns the mode of marketing in order to meet farmers engaged in different modes of sale and with a diversity of links between baskets and other circuits: market, collective point of sale, etc. The second criterion relates to the size of the work group: alone, as a couple, with employees, with the objective of obtaining a diversity of situations in terms of work organization. Finally, we looked for diversity in the experience of the profession, apprehended by the number of years of installation: less than 5 years, more than 5 years. We obtained the contacts using several lists and networks: Terre d’Envies Association for collective sales outlets in Rhône-Alpes, FRCIVAM in Brittany, Rhône and Finistère Chambers of Agriculture, Associations for the maintenance of peasant agriculture, websites… All the farmers surveyed are linked in one way or another with a collective structure. This study, of an exploratory nature, is not representative of the diversity of market gardening operations in CC, but it makes it possible to highlight certain emerging characteristics.The market gardeners interviewed, mostly of non-agricultural origin (20/31), chose to settle, most often following other professional experience. Indeed, 27 out of 31 had previously exercised a professional activity, including 15 of them in a non-agricultural field. These are experienced people who have been developing their activity for an average of 8.6 years (median value, 7). The forms of work organization are varied: individual, family, members, with employees (up to 7 employees in our sample). Depending on the case, household income is entirely or partially linked to agricultural activity. The surface of the farms varies from less than 1 ha to 25 ha, with also consequent differences in terms of equipment. Most of these market gardeners (27/31) produce and value under the AB label. This link between market gardening and organic production is substantial in Rhône-Alpes, due to a demanding market and a large number of market gardening installations that are carried out directly in organic farming [Corabio, 2010]. Commercialization in CC constitutes the main outlet for these farms since only four of them commercialize part of their production in long circuits (cooperatives, central purchasing, etc.). Our observations show farms combining an average of 3 marketing methods. Thereby, Commercialization in CC constitutes the main outlet for these farms since only four of them commercialize part of their production in long circuits (cooperatives, central purchasing, etc.). Our observations show farms combining an average of 3 marketing methods. Thereby, Commercialization in CC constitutes the main outlet for these farms since only four of them commercialize part of their production in long circuits (cooperatives, central purchasing, etc.). Our observations show farms combining an average of 3 marketing methods. Thereby,we find the specific contours of farms specializing in CC sales: size of farms, diversity of marketing methods and predominance of family work, which differentiate them from those that market in long circuits [CTIFL, 2007; Chiffoleau, 2008].

3 – Methods of professional integration of market gardeners in short circuits

20According to the analysis model proposed by Paugam, professional integration would mean for market gardeners both fulfillment in a productive activity and the possession of guarantees for the future.

3.1 – The relationship to work

21Three specific angles of approach make it possible to apprehend the relationship and satisfaction at work: homo faber , homo oeconomicus and homo sociologicus .

3.1.1 – Homo faber: bringing together philosophy and practices

22homo faberrefers to the act of work itself and to the fulfillment it brings to those who perform it, in the sense that it allows them to assert themselves in a specific work [Paugam, 2000]. Job satisfaction for market gardeners stems, first of all, from consistency between their way of working and their conception of agriculture in its relationship to society and social developments. The producers have the feeling of forming a link in the construction of a social project which relies on other actors: “The first job of a farmer is to feed the world, so already it is one of my wishes, to feed people…” (Settlement outside the family [HCF later], 10 ha including 8 in market gardening, a mode of marketing). Favoring organic production methods or which come close to them, they respond to consumer demands for more traceability. They develop cultural practices that they consider respectful of the land and nature: “We are good in what we live, in what we do, in what we produce, in the way of marketing and production that we have and (…) it seems to me that we participate a little in, I don’t know me, an objective of… mutual understanding. (…) And then we are quite proud of what we do, what… we basically do something that corresponds to us, we are somewhat in tune with what we are experiencing. » (HCF, 8 ha, 2 modes of marketing in CC) These market gardeners do not want to be subjected to contractors, but want to define the production schedule, volumes and cultivation practices themselves. Thereby, the content of the work and the ways of doing things make it possible to express ecological and environmental convictions. Proximity to consumers gives them the possibility of converging philosophy and practices.

23Secondly, CCs are an opportunity for new production techniques. The cultivation of heirloom vegetables and the search for new varieties are motivated as much by the desire to surprise the consumer as by the desire to plant what we like: “It’s technically more interesting market gardening, you have plenty of different vegetables to manage (45 different vegetables)… it’s complicated, that’s what it takes! …cropping too easy is not fun… a bit of a technical challenge! (HCF, 10 ha including 8 in market gardening, 1 mode of marketing in CC). This diversity of vegetables makes it possible to express one’s tastes for experimentation and to personalize one’s range of products. Some enrich their activity by transforming part of the products, which responds to the need to innovate and create.

24The question of the relationship to time is more problematic. Indeed, CC can be potentially time-consuming (transport time, packaging). However, the length of the work allows market gardeners the necessary flexibility and autonomy for creative work, at the rhythm of the seasons and cultures, and time for contacts. The challenge for market gardeners is therefore to become aware of this temporal dimension and to integrate it into the organization of work.

3.1.2 – Homo oeconomicus

25This dimension reflects a more instrumental attitude in the relationship to work. The satisfaction experienced then depends on the remuneration of work by the market. However, this is rarely expressed as an “absolute”, it is on the other hand evoked and evaluated most often in a relative way, in relation to the other dimensions of the relationship to work. Two logics characterize the market gardeners surveyed: the first focuses on the need to meet the needs of the family and the second gives priority to the development of the business “managing a business, developing it, I like that” (HCF, 2.5 ha, 4 marketing methods).

3.1.3 – Homo sociologicus: renewed spaces for socialization

26Commercialization in CC triggers new forms of socialization (customers, local professional groups, etc.) and promotes the social relations of producers within the local community. This local commitment, coupled with investment in mixed networks (with players outside the agricultural sphere), generates satisfaction at work and recognition of agricultural activity as a whole. It also carries the seeds of the formation of a professional group.

– Openness to other reference spaces

27Meeting and exchanging with consumers are cited by market gardeners as one of the reasons for choosing CCs. Depending on the different forms of arrangements, producers have more or less opportunities for exchanges. They can simply be present when baskets are distributed or organize farm visits, discussion evenings, or offer consumers the opportunity to participate in farm activities. These encounters invite producers to move from their reference space to that of consumers: “You could say that at the start everything opposed us, that’s what’s interesting, we find ourselves in a place, that allows us to swap. We, there are a lot of things we don’t know about the city in its functioning and vice versa in our way of working… these are people we would never have met otherwise, so that’s good. (HCF, 20 ha, three marketing methods) These exchanges introduce a new relational dimension into agricultural activity, a source of satisfaction and gratification:to see the people for whom we produce, to whom we supply the vegetables. When someone tells you that your vegetables are good it’s always a pleasure (laughs), we’ll say it’s more rewarding anyway. (HCF, 2.5 ha, two marketing methods) They participate in expanding the social network of producers, sometimes allowing them to come out of their isolation: “It’s nice socially, it takes us out, in our area of ​​life and finally, socially it’s important because we can be easily isolated by not taking over the family farm, etc., it’s one more network, it’s nice. (HCF, 6 ha, a marketing method)

28However, these expectations sometimes come up against the reality of exchanges with consumers: “Some consumers are sometimes a thousand leagues from our reality, people can be happy with the quality of the products, but they will not necessarily go realize that making these products requires an impossible amount of energy” (installation in the family setting [CF later], 25 ha, three marketing methods). They can lead to frustrations in the face of misunderstandings: “They don’t realize how much we earn per hour. (HCF, 20 ha, three marketing methods)

– The emergence of working groups

29The development of the CC favors the emergence of new working groups, made up of producers committed to the same approaches. Many contacts are created at the start of the activity where the older ones accompany those who set up shop by giving them advice and making available to them the tools they use, and which they have sometimes built themselves. Professional coordination is created to optimize working time. Thus, the collective makes it possible to overcome certain difficulties: “It’s the best way to increase the performance of your company because you don’t have the infused science, you make mistakes… that’s how you advance even faster, it’s not by staying in one’s corner. (CF, 4 ha, three marketing methods)

30Those involved in collective distribution approaches, such as collective sales outlets or AMAPs, must “collaborate” to decide which vegetables will fill the baskets. The exchanges are then more “hectic” but despite everything, always perceived as a source of satisfaction: “It’s not easy at all democracy (laughs). but… well, it’s also interesting, I find that it gives another dimension to our work…” (HCF, 13 ha, two marketing methods) When a market gardener decides to switch to organic production, these groups provide a both technical and administrative support.

– Participation in mixed elective networks

31Relations with other producers can be extended through training or information meetings (AFOG, CIVAM, etc.). Belonging to professional networks or associations allows producers to discuss with their peers, to stay in contact with the various players in the sector and to be part ofa real collective professional dynamic: “We carry out our accounting in the grassroots group, which means that we share our figures and that we discuss these questions a great deal, of course, working time and the economic profitability of the farm is very related. (HCF, 13 ha, two marketing methods) These mixed networks represent a valuable source of professional integration through the pooling of work references and the spirit of cooperation that drives them.

32The dimension of socialization is therefore particularly revealed by CC marketing. Precisely, when the social relations between producers, activated around marketing, coincide with the networks formed around agricultural and rural associations, the conditions for the formation of a professional group are undoubtedly met.

3.2 – Relationship to employment

33In the case of the market gardening activity, the activity is carried out in the independent, non-salaried form. The relationship to employment refers to the ability to secure income and therefore to risk taking. However, market gardeners selling in CC find themselves in favorable conditions for the development of their activity, due to the existence of a strong demand for local products. The diversification of productions and a distribution throughout the year contribute to a certain stability of income. The risks are limited and recourse is possible in the event of production failure. In the particular case of certain forms of baskets, contracts of 3 to 6 months offer producers stability in sales. However, not everyone has the same investment behavior.

34In a first logic, income is secured by minimizing risk taking; the amount of the investment is generally low: “I didn’t invest a lot at the start, because at the commitment level I didn’t want to commit myself for too long, nor for a lot of money… Me, my final goal , is to repay my loans and then be able to self-finance my business. (HCF, 2.7 ha, two marketing methods) This logic results from a desire for independence from banks. She can still take up a personal challenge, the objective being to show that it is possible to create her own business independently, without having recourse to banks or aid, or very little: “I wanted to show that it is possible to make a farm exist without DJA (Young Farmers Grant), without an accountant, without a computer and without a USB key […] it works, I wanted to prove that it works and it works. (HCF, 5 ha, two marketing methods)

35In a second logic, investments are considered on the contrary as “levers”. Investing in a work tool is seen as a means of mastering the various aspects of production and achieving objectives in terms of working time, remuneration or working conditions. Market gardeners mostly resort to borrowing, especially when creating the activity; the objective is to quickly reach a cruising speed: “Compared to the average market gardener, I invest a lot more […] the objective is to free up time and income, and quickly perpetuate the structure [ …] I have clear objectives and I want to achieve them quickly, so for that you need equipment, you have to give yourself the means to succeed…” (HCF, 10 ha, two marketing methods)

36The analysis of the dimensions of professional integration, based on the statements of market gardeners, highlights shared elements around job satisfaction. In fact, CC marketing methods have a major influence on job satisfaction from the point of view of freedom of initiative and innovation and methods of professional socialization. Innovation is an ordinary and collective activity [Alter, 2005]: in these market garden farms, it concerns the production of little-known vegetables, the development of equipment to reduce the hardship of the work, the original packaging of products, etc. direct relations between producers and consumers, but also exchanges with other producers engaged in the same circuits, renew the ways of seeing the profession [Dufouret al. , 2011]. They enable the exchange of knowledge and promote learning. Thus, despite the diversity of forms of work organization and practices observed at farm level, these results show common forms of professional integration around homo faber and homo sociologicus .

4 – From professional integration to the return of the peasant actor

4.1 – Working time and income, threats to assured professional integration

37The way in which the different dimensions of professional integration are articulated makes it possible to distinguish four situations: disqualifying integration which combines job dissatisfaction and job instability; guaranteed integration based, on the contrary, on job satisfaction and guaranteed employment; laborious integration, which corresponds to a situation where work does not provide satisfaction, without employment being threatened; finally, the uncertain integration which results from a situation where job instability does not lead to job dissatisfaction [Paugam, 2000].

38Situations of uncertain and disqualifying integration were not encountered in our sample. The market gardeners interviewed tend to experience situations of guaranteed integration, especially when they achieve a certain balance between the three dimensions: homo faber, homo sociologicus, homo oeconomicus . They express relative serenity with regard to the future of their farm. The tensions most frequently mentioned relate to questions of working time and income. Indeed, the management of working time constitutes one of the main limits raised in these marketing systems [Aubry et al., 2011]. Due to the diversity of productions, the creation of new activities (processing, reception on the farm) these complex and multifunctional operating systems present strong constraints in terms of organization and hardship of work, threatening the sustainability of long-term projects [Argouarc’h et al. , 2007]. These weakening elements therefore require laborious integration.

4.2 – Hybridization of professional figures

39The market gardeners interviewed position themselves at the intersection of the two figures of the entrepreneurand the farmer, combining different logics of action. The different dimensions of the relationship to work and employment reveal the characteristics of the entrepreneurial figure, exploring particularly strategic market niches, with an important place given to innovation and the mobilization of networks. The classic peasant figure is nevertheless present in the relationship to technology and the land, in the blurring of working time and non-working time, in the concern for belonging to a local community and finally in the attachment to manual practices and tacit know-how. Our analysis does not seek to highlight typical profiles of individuals who have similar trajectories, adopt the same behaviors and refer to the same values ​​in order to identify group logics.

40Market gardeners would ultimately constitutehybrid figures who grope their way, in their activity and in distribution, for new sources of satisfaction. They develop logics of action from a combination of norms, values ​​and behaviors drawn from different professional cultures, but partially according to their subjectivity and their history [Dufour and Lanciano, 2012]. According to previous experiences, age, gender, family situation, relationships to land, work and time are nuanced because they are the result of several registers. The CCs intervene in this respect as an opportunity to develop renewed socialization spaces. Indeed, these spaces are built initially by turning to customers, then towards working groups which enable the exchange of know-how and finally, towards professional networks. These hybridization processes implemented by market gardeners lead to a patchwork of combinations in the ways of seeing and practicing the profession of farmer.

4.3 – Towards the development of the subject and the return of the peasant actor

41Rather than an alternative mode of engagement in the agricultural activity, this hybridization shows in these market gardeners the distances taken with the traditional professional figures and the initiatives to constitute themselves as subject in the new modernity (Touraine, 1992).

42The process of individualization can be considered as a characteristic element of modern western societies. According to Claude Dubar, “individualistic” forms of identity construction take precedence over “collective” forms [Dubar, 2000]. This “individualistic” form is also very uncertain. It is geared towards “self-realization” and linked to the ability of individuals to build networks. Thus individuals are not defined only by a place, a social role and a sense of belonging [Singly and Martucelli, 2009]. They have the opportunity to define themselves based on personal resources and choices, but they are forced to face uncertainty. The market gardeners’ accounts of their journey and their work show that they do not feel locked into belonging: “peasant” or another: “farmer”, “entrepreneur” or “innovator”. They like to use the term”peasant” to define himself, but each specifies the meaning he gives to it. They highlight the relationship with nature, perceived as a resource to be preserved, and the multifunctional dimension of their activity. However, the given meaning does not necessarily carry a predefined identity. It allows them to situate themselves through their actions and their evolutions, to define themselves through the multiple choices that are theirs [Herreros, 2009], and therefore to define themselves as a subject [Touraine, 1992].

43In the context of the analysis of a professional activity, the central question for the subject then becomes that of his professional integration [Paugam, 2000] more than that of identity construction. By referring to heterogeneous norms and values, market gardeners try to extract themselves from the traditional identity models linked to the agricultural world. They try to widen the field of possibilities by each building their own uniqueness. The mixing of the different dimensions of the relationship to work leads to multiple learnings and reveals the reflective capacity of the actors. Indeed, the conduct of their activity and the marketing in CC place them in unprecedented situations; they understand what they are doing when they are doing it [Corcuff, 2011; Giddens, 1987].

44The strategies of market gardeners cannot be apprehended in terms of choices, interests and preferences within a closed space, that of the farm. They result from social interactions between what it seems possible to achieve and what it seems desirable to value [Chiffoleau and Prévost, 2010]. These individual behaviors are embedded in a set of social relations that have as their backdrop the development of CCs. Until recently, food issues have been confined to economic and technical approaches and at the national level. Today, they are set at the sub-national level [Chiffoleau and Prévost, 2010] by consumers, producers, local communities and public authorities. This reappropriation of the food issue opens up spaces for initiatives and social innovations, in which market gardeners position themselves as actors. One of the challenges for these market gardeners is their ability to identify the demands and expectations of consumers, through direct relations or through micro-collectives, such as the AMAPs, for example.

45Finally, the development of the CC does not necessarily imply the resurgence of the classic figure of the peasant. On the other hand, marketing CCs disturb the classic figures of the professional integration of market gardening activity, by promoting the rise in power of the subject, the development of reflexive capacities [Giddens, 1987] and openness to social networks. expanded. Its three dimensions characterize the peasant actor.

5 – Conclusion

46This article shows how new exchange relations, commercialization CCs, modify the forms of commitment to work. The professional integration model makes it possible to account for the hybridization of professional figures; the analysis reveals specific dimensions among market gardeners selling in CC, which could characterize the peasant actor  : the rise in power of the subject, the development of reflexive capacities and anchoring in diversified social networks.

47Market gardeners in CC represent a minority among all farmers, and the structure of the French agricultural landscape is far from being reversed. However, at the collective level, alternative arrangements for structuring and action are developing. Thus, networks relating to actors from the agricultural sphere, but also from the territory and consumers, come together around training initiatives, advice, installation assistance and exchanges of practices. Both at the individual and collective level, these market gardeners become the subjects of their action in order to transform their environment, to produce new institutions [Lawrence et al. , 2009] and perhaps new forms of living together.