• Julio Sa Rego

Pastoralism, multifunctionality and environmental agency

Dernière mise à jour : 6 juin


The idea of multifunctionality permeates European agriculture. Pastoralism is not spared and is valued as a vector of environmental management of the mountainous areas. Multifunctio nality is nonetheless connected to entrepreneurial agriculture. Although entrepreneurship is disseminated in the European agricultural sector, little is known about the entrepreneurial evolution within traditional mountain pastoralist communities. This ethnographic paper builds on the case study of mountain sheep pastoralists in Braganza, Portugal, to augment this knowledge. It dives into the dynamics of production of sheep farming to uncover the cultural drivers of traditional pastoralism in Northern Portugal. Results show that pastoralists are unresponsive to the entrepreneurial narratives of multifunctionality as they respond to the occupational identity of shepherds in a moral economy of subsistence ethic. Pastoralists nevertheless own a valuable environmental agency grounded in their condition of rural dwellers. Tailored narratives to their subsistence ethic are then required to rapidly address and valorize this environmental agency as new fire regimes progress and traditional pastoralism stands at the brink of extinction in Portugal. These results may ultimately contribute to global literature and policy making on pastoralism, multifunctionality and environment; worldwide pastoralist communities share holistically cultural features and convergent historical trajectories.


Keywords: pastoralism, peasantry, environmental agency, multifunctionality, entrepreneurial agriculture, ethnography.


Sa Rego, J., Cabo, P., & Castro, M. (2022). Pastoralism, multifunctionality and environmental agency: insights from mountain sheep pastoralists in Northern Portugal. Journal of Agrarian Change. [SJR Q1; IF 2.598].