Scale of agricultural production, civic engagement, and community welfare

Thomas A. Lyson, Robert J. Torres, Rick Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Using data from the Census of Agriculture and other secondary sources, we examine the relationship between scale of farm operations in a county and the well-being of local residents. Following earlier work by C. Wright Mills and Walter Goldschmidt, we hypothesize that in agriculture dependent counties that are dominated by a small handful of very large farms, the level of community welfare will be significantly lower than in counties in which agriculture is organized around smaller-scale farm operations. Findings show that scale of farm operations is related to well-being. However, this relationship is mediated by the level of civic engagement and the strength of the economically independent middle class. A theory of civic community is proposed to account for these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-327
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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