Trajectories of deagrarianization in South Africa-Past, current and emerging trends: A bibliometric analysis and systematic review

Felicity Aphiwe Mkhongi, Walter Musakwa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Inquiries into rural households’ engagement with smallholder agriculture remain ambiguous and complex. For this reason, research on cultivation patterns has been informed by numerous articles published in recent decades. However, studies detailing the development and progress of deagrarianization remain understudied. In attempts to bridge this knowledge gap, the study aims to provide empirical insights into the trajectories of deagrarianization in South Africa. Studies published between 1996 and 2021 were retrieved from Clarivate Web of Science for analysis. A combination of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) and bibliometric analysis was adopted to provide a comprehensive review of deagrarianization dynamics. The findings emphasize that the field of deagrarianization is gaining momentum as publications gradually emerge to indicate that although cultivation is dominant among rural households, there is a reduction in field cultivation and an increase in home-gardening in former homelands of South Africa. Furthermore, common keywords in deagrarianization literature, from a global, African and South African perspective include poverty and livelihoods. Considering that majority of deagrarianization studies analyze patterns, drivers and consequences of the phenomenon, future research needs to consider novel methodologies such as participatory GIS and new avenues that incorporate, but are not limited to, other livelihood issues such as social identities and food security. It is advised that strategies for enhancing rural development and agricultural policies focus on broader solutions that do not only sustain home-gardens but also revitalize both active and abandoned fields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-333
Number of pages9
JournalGeography and Sustainability
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Deagrarianization
  • South Africa
  • VOSviewer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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