BF 142/15: Social farming and social capital in rural regions

In recent years, an increasing importance of measures summarised under the catchwords Green Care and Social Farming can be observed. The special setting of the work and social system on a farm enables many meaningful activities and social interactions that not only open up a new quality of life for a wide range of clients, but also new fields of employment and income opportunities for farms and multiple benefits for society as a whole. The research project "Social Farming in Austria, South Tyrol and Trentino (BF 132/11)", which has now been completed, focused on a fundamental structural analysis and conceptual delimitation and systematic documentation of social farming, as well as the significance of these social services in terms of agricultural structure in comparison to the entire agricultural and forestry sector in Austria. The results of this joint research project of the Federal Institute for Mountain Farming, the Federal Institute for Agricultural Economics and the European Academy of Bolzano were published in Research Report No. 66 of the Federal Institute for Mountain Farming. Among other things, it was shown that the social environment and social acceptance play a major role in the successful implementation of projects in the field of social farming. In many cases, even the best-designed projects fail because they are initiated in the wrong place, at the wrong time or under unfavourable regional policy conditions.

Based on the results of the structural analysis, the project analysed the relationship between social farming enterprises and the socio-economic environment in three different pilot municipalities. The concept of social capital developed by Bourdieu (1980), Coleman (1988), Putnam (1993, 1995) and Woolcock (1998) served as a theoretical background. Social capital is understood as a resource that arises from the regular interaction of individuals and groups and generates networks of mutual support, trust, social norms and understanding. Social farming can significantly increase local social capital through networking and integration conduits. On the one hand, clients can be integrated into local or regional networks, and on the other hand, the local population can benefit in a variety of ways from the existence of appropriate facilities.

In the research project, the interfaces between social farms and local social capital were analysed with regard to the emergence of new networks and social structures and the influence on civil society.

In 2017, the research report "Good concepts in the right place? Social farming and social capital in rural regions" was completed.

The study was also presented to a broad public of academics and practitioners via specialist articles, conferences and lectures.

Project Status


Project Leader



Rural Sociology and Library



MMag.a Sigrid EGARTNER

former employees
TAMME, Oliver

M.Sc. Oliver TAMME

Mountain Areas Research and Regional Development
Dietrichgasse 27
1030 Wien
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