The Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) Group dovetails the domains of Rural Development Sociology, Disaster Studies and Anthropology of Law. The Group historically has a strong record on the anthropology and sociology of development, which has been broadened to include the fields of anthropology of law and disaster studies. The Group combines a critical approach to development issues and processes with an interest in crisis, governance, livelihood and resources, in rural as well as urban environments. It is interested in the nexus between local and global processes and the continuities and discontinuities between stability and crisis.
The SDC Group encompasses the full chair Sociology of Development and Change (Professor Bram Buscher, commission January 1, 2015), the chair Disaster Studies (Professor Georg Frerks) and the special chair Law and Governance in Africa (Professor Han van Dijk).
The Group has its origins in the Department of Agrarian Sociology of Non-Western Regions, founded in 1955 by Professor Rudi van Lier. In the 1980’s the Department, then headed by Professor Norman Long, changed its name to Rural Development Sociology and developed the actor-oriented approach, one of the perspectives of the internationally recognized tradition of the Wageningen School of Sociology. From 2002 thru 2012 the group was led by Professor Leontine Visser. During this time, the Group strengthened its expertise on governance in developing countries, building on the Wageningen tradition in anthropology of law initiated by Professor Franz von Benda-Beckmann. Expertise on disaster and conflict was added to the Group with the chair Disaster Studies, created in 1997, to study the linkages between conflict, disaster and development.