Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Hoffman, David M.

Committee Member

Schewe, Rebecca L.

Committee Member

Copeland, Toni

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Applied Anthropology

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures


This Master’s Thesis establishes what motivates a group of Mississippi farmers to participate in sustainable agriculture instead of industrial agriculture. A database of sustainable farmers was constructed in collaboration with the Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi. This research project used social network analysis with 28 farmers and participant observation and semi-structured interviewing with a purposively selected sample of 14 farmers. This project also explores the sustainable agricultural practices of participants. A map of the social network of sustainable agriculturalists in Mississippi is presented and shows that some farmers are well connected, some moderately connected, and others are isolated. As well, grounded qualitative analysis of interviews identified 4 primary motivations among participants: economic, health, self-sufficiency and anti-government. Overall this project found that motivations are numerous, social networks are weak but growing, and diverse demographics are turning to a sustainable model for agriculture in Mississippi.