The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Social Responsibility: M.S.

First Advisor

Ann Finan

Second Advisor

Julie Andrzejewski

Third Advisor

Sandrine Zerbib

Keywords and Subject Headings

Social Capital, Social Network, Farmer's Market, Rural, Agriculture, Local Food Systems, Sustainability, Social Responsibility


Farmer's markets have seen phenomenal growth in the United States since 1994, and in the last five years winter farmers' markets (WFMs) have also gained popularity. In this study, I explore social capital which consists of social networks, trust and reciprocity, and resources (Glanville and Bienenstock, 2009) at the WFM with the aim of learning about the role of the social capital with a focus on the vendors. Despite being seldom used in empirical studies, I employ James Coleman's ( 1988) forms of social capital which include: obligations, expectations, and trustworthiness of structures, information channels, and norms and sanctions, and find these generally useful in capturing various forms of social capital at the WFM.

Data were collected via eleven qualitative, semi-structured interviews with vendors from two WFMs in rural Minnesota and observations of the interactions between the vendors and their spatial arrangement at several sessions of each market.

I find evidence of all three of Coleman's forms mostly between vendors at the WFM. The role of social capital I propose, my thesis of preliminary nature, is that social capital enhances the experience of vendors in their business activity connected to vending at the WFM. This is realized via five outcomes that I formulate: the smoothing of the experience for vendors, the increase of the chance of vendors receiving customers and doing business, the yield of information about other opportunities, the yield of information to be shared and accessed for business or personal use, and outside the FM sessions, the gain of access to material resources and assistance.

I present a theoretical conclusion on social capital regarding the rational-choice and embeddedness perspectives, explain why the social capital observed exists at these markets, and discuss the finding that vendor adjacency and the small dimensions of the market space and the slow pace of customer-vendor selling were characteristics of the winter markets, patent at times, and conducive to the building of social capital.

The latter chapters include an adjunct piece on food social movements and the function of the WFM and presentation of implications of the outcomes formulated and wider benefits of inferential nature. I argue these inferred benefits additionally support the thesis formulated. The existence of the WFM to the extent it is supported by social capital in general is connected to the rural WFM's effects on sustainability and local food systems.


A lengthy piece of writing such as a thesis does not come into existence without assistance and upport from others. I would like to thank my thesis committee for their help in shaping this research project and giving their valuable time to be on my project committee. I give thanks to my thesis advisor Ann Finan for all of the time she gave on and off campus and after the end of the academic semester in helping write this project and for the extra, graduate-level discussion and opportunities in her classes.

I want to acknowledge all of the professors in the Social Responsibility Master's Program whom I studied under as a graduate student- with their instruction and guidance I have been given the tools and appropriate framework to understand society from a critical perspective with the aim to improve social conditions for all on the planet and address issues of social justice and sustainability. I have appreciated their time given planning curricula, grading papers, and interpreting classic and contemporary works for me- I am a better student and person because of their effort. I would also like to thank my program advisor, Julie Andrzejewski for introducing me to social responsibility and her program and life guidance.

I also ought to acknowledge the helpful assistance given to me by Ann Anderson and the School of Graduate Studies: their effort put into assisting graduate students is very good and an asset to the university in my view. My university ought to be acknowledged for supporting the valuable Social Responsibility academic program, for providing good facilities for graduate students, and for their development of leaders of student organizations.

Last of all I thank my family for their support and my partner, also a Julie, for her listening to my thoughts on the serious issues dealt with in social responsibility, all of her support, and for working with me to address global issues of social responsibility in the struggle for a more humane and just world.

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the com field ."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The only difference between a pigeon and the American farmer today is that a pigeon can still make a deposit on a John Deere."

Jim Hightower V



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