The concentration area “Development, Agriculture, and Society,” which encompasses the different lines of research in the program, has its roots in the history of the institution, which was established in 1976 as the Graduate Course in Agricultural Development (CPDA). It was established in 2004, and has undergone successive updates. In its current definition, this area of concentration refers to a field of multiple studies encompassing a wide range of debates and analytical perspectives that break away from dualistic rural-versus-urban visions (which originally marked both rural sociology and rural anthropology) and deconstruct the analytical bias focused exclusively on the economic, technological, and political-institutional dynamics associated with agriculture itself. The dynamics and social processes described by the phrase “Development, Agriculture, and Society” are consequently not limited to the agrarian space or agriculture per se, and are based on the complex relations in which “rural,” “agricultural,” and “food” are constituted as objects of analysis in contemporary life.
Over recent decades, the CPDA has been following the intense process of revitalization in the social sciences that focus on the rural world and the agri-food system, not only in Brazil but in different parts of the world. Within this movement, academic debates related to the agrarian question, peasantry, rural patronage, social movements, and the production of rurality in contemporary societies have been renewed by new approaches. Academic production linked to this field of study has simultaneously incorporated a new set of themes and issues related to the environment, culture, social gender relations, consumption, food, social memory, rural/urban co-production, social movements, the social construction of markets, and science and technology, among others.
This renewed look at the rural, agriculture, and the agri-food system has been catalyzed by interdisciplinary dialog between researchers and knowledge areas within the field of social sciences (and the humanities in general), as well as by collaborations between researchers from different fields of study on topics that are very relevant to the public debate, such as climate change and transitions to sustainability, food sovereignty and security, preservation of biodiversity, the financialization of agriculture and reconfiguration of global commodity chains, and recognizing the rights of indigenous and traditional peoples and communities.