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Organic farming has experienced a major break through in Europe during the 1990s. The suggestion here, is to see it as an implantation of post-modernist values into agriculture and as representing a break in the agriculture self-rule,which developed during the 20th century. This rather unusual situation needs an open theoretical framework. Such a framework is suggested. It focuses on institutionalization and combines institutional theory with social movement theory and theory of coalition making. The need for a non-deterministic view on organic farming development is further justified by referring to a comparative analysis of the development of organic farming in eighteen European countries. It emphasizes the need for a distinct organic farming identity and suggests that the growth in European organic farming is neither explained by political support nor by pure market forces. Rather organic farming growth is promoted through a continuous series of initiatives originating in different parts of society.