Table 1. Proposed criteria for assessing the social dimensions of sustainability in diversified farming systems (DFS).

Themes Selected variables for analysis Selected authors
Human Health
Food security, hunger, nutrition, wellness, morbidity and mortality from pesticide exposures, food contamination, livestock to human diseases, drinking water contamination, obesity.
Fenske 2002,
Horrigan et al. 2002,
Lock et al. 2005,
Kerr et al. 2007
Participation (voice and vote), decision making, rural associations/cooperatives, social capital and community cohesion, inequalities in social power, representation, accountability mechanisms, food sovereignty, social movements, governance and government policy (overlaps with equity and justice)
Flora 2003,
Fox and Gresham 2000,
Pretty and Ward 2001,
Allen 2010
Paid and unpaid agricultural and food system labor
(within and beyond households). Employment, wages, changing labor routines, injuries, migration/immigration, discrimination, collective bargaining (overlaps with equity and justice, health)
Carney and Watts 1990,
Kevane and Gray 1999,
Littig and Griessler 2005,
Getz et al. 2008
Quality of Life and Human Well-being
Income, economic poverty, education, employment,
housing conditions, security, life expectancy, as well as subjective perceptions. (Links with health)
Goldschmidt 1946,
MEA 2005,
Panelli and Tipa 2007,
UNDP 2010
Equity, Justice, and Ethics
Procedural and distributional dimensions of environmental and food justice. Environmental and food access inequalities. Influence of geography, race, class, gender and other markers of social identity upon the distributions of environmental benefits and burdens in agri-food systems. Ethics of eating, farming, food systems, and intergenerational ecosystem stewardship.
Kloppenburg et al. 2000,
Dupuis and Goodman 2005,
Sneddon et al. 2006,
Gottlieb and Joshi 2010,
Alkon and Agyeman 2011
Resiliency and
“The capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure and feedbacks, and therefore identity, that is, the capacity to change in order to maintain the same identity” (Walker et al. 2004).
Response to shocks (hurricanes, floods, droughts, market crashes, social upheavals), coping mechanisms, livelihoods damage, and social learning and local knowledge institutions
Carpenter et al. 2001,
Turner et al. 2003,
Lin 2007,
Folke et al. 2010,
Wisner et al. 2011
Biological and
Cultural Diversity
Cultural practices, languages spoken, indigenous
and hybrid ecological knowledge systems, diet, planned and associated diversity in farms and forests, oral traditions (overlaps with resiliency and vulnerability)
Berkes et al. 1995,
Toledo et al. 2003,
Altieri 2004,
Johns and Sthapit 2004,
Maffi 2005,
Chappell and LaValle 2011