Mapping the research domains on work in agriculture. A bibliometric review from Scopus database

Priscila Duarte Malanski, Benoît Dedieu, Sandra Mara de Alencar Schiavi: Mapping the research domains on work in agriculture. A bibliometric review from Scopus database. In: Journal of Rural Studies, 2020, ISSN: 0743-0167.


Near to half of world population lives in rural areas, and agriculture is responsible for 28% of global employment. Structural changes in agriculture impacting labor and the low attractivity of employment and working conditions in this sector are the major issues for the permanence and renewal of the rural workforce. Promoting decent work is essential to reach sustainable development. According to the ILO definition, decent work involves a wide range of conditions linked between them that include and go beyond farming work (e.g. gender equity, workplace security, fair income, among others). This complex situation requires for scientists the analysis of the diverse topics, as well as the development of interdisciplinary approaches to deal with this diversity. A review of the scientific literature is necessary to summarize the knowledge that has been produced and identify the current trends related to work in agriculture. In order to provide a background in this topic, the aim of this study was to review the state of the international literature related to work in agriculture, through a bibliometric analysis of scientific articles indexed in Scopus bibliographical database. Our findings show that USA, UK, France and China are the leaders in the scientific landscape according to: geographical production of knowledge, main journals and authors, and most-cited articles. The analysis of work in agriculture is declined in five main research domains: 1) social issues in rural areas; 2) labor market; 3) household strategies of labor allocation, 4) work organization in livestock farms; and 5) occupational health in farms. These research domains are investigated by four main scientific communities that prevail in the international literature: 1) agricultural economics; 2) ergonomics; 3) social issues for rural development; and 5) livestock farming systems. Besides those mainstream research, three major research trends emerged: 1) migration and precarious employment condition; 2) work issues in advisory services; and 3) labor governance in global value chains. These trends reflect ongoing transformations in agriculture that are important to think about the future of the work in this sector and its impacts on sustainable development. We show for the first time the characteristics of the main scientific communities that have performed the most relevant research indexed in Scopus database related to work in agriculture over the past 10 years. This review offers an overview in an interdisciplinary topic, and provides a benchmark for future cutting-edge research. The ILO definition of decent work can be a guideline for focus and deepen specific topics, since our findings indicate that several of them are linked to work-related issues in agriculture, which could support sustainable development on this sector.

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