Actor–Networks, Farmer Decisions, and Identity


  • Benjamin J. Gray is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kansas. His research interests include agriculture, innovation, natural resource management, and social change in the United States.
  • Jane W. Gibson is a cultural anthropologist and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kansas. Her interests include economic and environmental anthropology, natural resource management, agriculture, and tourism and development in the United States and Central America.


Climate change and industrial agricultural practices pose threats to the future of Kansas agriculture. To inform the debate about sustainable agriculture that must soon occur, we seek to illuminate the factors involved in the decision making of farmers in Kansas. Drawing from Actor–Network Theory, we consider how farmers' participation in the industrial agricultural network shapes their decisions, defines the types of knowledge and skills that are valued by farmers and others in the network, transforms what it means to be a Kansas grain farmer, and entrenches unsustainable production practices.