Laboratory of rural studies of Lyon

Who are we?

The Laboratoire d’études rurales of Lyon (LER, “Laboratory of rural studies”) is a pluridisciplinary research unit belonging to the University of Lyon 2 and settled in the Institut des sciences de l’Homme (Institute of social sciences) of Lyon (ISH-Lyon).

This unit was created in 2003 by Pr. Jean-Luc Mayaud, historian, specialist of late modern rural development, with the aim to build a team of high scientific level able to structure researches in new questionings about rural and agricultural development, linking social, political, technical and scientific approaches, from the end of the 18th to the beginning of the 21st century.

Fields and competences

The university of Lyon has an old tradition of both geographical and historical rural studies. The LER was first based on the scientific resources of the University of Lyon 2 in those two fields, joined in 2004 by social sciences researchers of an agricultural engineer college, the ISARA-Lyon, then by researchers of other universities of the region, allowing the laboratory to offer a wide set of competences, including sociology, economics, agronomy and law. The LER is now able to produce both researches and expertise on agricultural or rural issues mainly in Rhône-Alpes, but also in other french regions and since a few years in international rural studies (Canada and Brazil mainly).

Born in the context of the revival of the questionings concerning food, hygiene and health, environment and territorial organization in postindustrial societies, this research unit wanted to meet social and institutional demands with methodical and ethical responses, producing a permanent scientific criticism of the representations involved in rural issues, what french rural studies have identified as the agrarian paradigm. So one could say that the real object of the researches conducted in the LER is in fact the dynamics of modernity, seized by the bias of rural and agricultural issues and microsocial methods, with a constant practice of field work.

Research organization

The LER organizes its researches in four directions, all aiming at emphasizing the logics of rural and agricultural development:

- 1 : Actors, organizations and institutions of rural and agricultural development.

- 2 : Social history of expertise and of the production of technical and scientific rationalities concerning agricultural and breeding practices

- 3 : Powers, conflicts, images concerning rural societies

- 4 : Productions, markets, food

Teaching and scientific activities

The LER is linked to a strong teaching and training system in social sciences, including a postgraduate training in rural studies (Master 1 and Master 2 “rural studies” in Lyon 2 University) and a PhD training in both history and geography (Lyon 2 University École doctorale). The laboratory welcomes all researchers and students in his monthly interdisciplinary seminar, in the Institut des sciences de l’homme, Lyon 7e, 14 avenue Berthelot. The researchers of this unit are also involved in scientific publishing, with the scientific interdisciplinary review Ruralia (two issues in a year since 1997).

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