Under the title of “Human capital, wage labour and innovation in rural areas”, an International Seminar was held in Athens, 23-24 October 2015. The seminar, jointly organized by Harokopio University of Athens and Agricultural University of Athens, brought together academics, researchers and practitioners working on the development of rural areas. It was an interesting opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas over a number of relevant issues: the demographics and in/out migration of rural areas; the role of wage labour in agriculture and food production; the transformation of Local Food Systems; the quality of life of the indigenous and migrant population in agricultural areas; the precarious status and labour rights of wage labour; the potential of human capital, and the innovation practices and policies implemented in rural areas, with a particular focus in southern European countries.
Professor Apostolos Papadopoulos and Professor Charalambos Kasimis, members of the Research and Study Group (RSG) “Southern and Mediterranean Europe: Social Change, Challenges and Opportunities ”, introduced the Seminar to the attendees. The meeting was a new opportunity for the members of the RSG to gather and keep improving networking with rural researchers in southern and Mediterranean countries.
Twenty one papers were presented in five sessions by researchers from Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey. Despite differences and particularities amongst countries, contributions showed common features in relation with the increasing importance of immigrant wage labour in certain agricultural sectors; the concern about the precariousness of working conditions in accordance with the requirements of a globalized agro-food markets; the needs for better understanding and management of rural-urban mobilities and the innovative practices developed by farmers and rural dwellers to face the effects of the crisis.