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Farmers, farming & change: A social psychological analysis.

Guerrier, Susan (2007) Farmers, farming & change: A social psychological analysis. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The UK farming industry is in the midst of rapid change: policy change, decoupling support payments from production; social change, affecting the food consumers buy and from where they buy it; greater awareness of issues of food safety and animal welfare; and greater concern about matters of environmental protection and countryside access. Farmers find such change problematic. To understand how change is being experienced and understood in the farming industry three empirical studies were undertaken: semi-structured interviews with farmers; narrative interviews with others in the agricultural public sphere; and a content analysis of Farmers Weekly, circulating in the agricultural industry, and The Times, circulating among the general public. Analysis was qualitative, using thematic and content analysis and incorporating the computer programmes ALCESTE and NVIVO. The results indicate that change is problematic for 3 reasons. Firstly, farmers' identity and self-esteem as producers are being challenged. Secondly, farmers are receiving contradictory messages as to what their role should be. Thirdly, government involvement in the farming industry has created a 'learned helplessness' which impedes farmers' agency to cope with change. The findings demonstrate the use of social representations theory in an applied social setting. They suggest that the structural approach places too much emphasis on the stability of the core of a representation. Observations made during the research are used to argue for a social psychology of change which will enable the discipline to become more adept at investigating and addressing the problems of contemporary society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, Agriculture, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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