Abstract: This paper brings anthropological, sociological and geographical perspectives to bear on the problem of farm sustainability and, in particular, the legitimation of sustainable farm practices. It attempts to lay some theoretical foundations for explanation of the adoption of farming practices which may, or may not, promote sustainability. A brief survey of the literature surrounding these issues finds many of the current theoretical perspectives incapable of fully accounting for the complexity of farming practice. Reductionist decision/rational-action models, in particular, are found wanting for their lack of both cultural consistency and social/spatial specificity. Instead, this paper promotes a generative structuralist approach directed towards an analysis of social and economic practice in lived space; that is, firmly anchored in long-term ethnographic research.