Mapping farmer identity: Why, how, and what does it tell us?

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Abstract

Rural areas in developed economies are becoming increasingly multi-functional in that their character is being shaped by a mix of production, consumption and conservation values. Agriculture may remain the dominant land use, but many landholders do not see themselves as farmers by occupation. Researchers have demonstrated that occupational identity influences land use and management. However, efforts to explore the influence of occupational identity often rely on surrogate measures and have largely ignored identity theory. We build on research demonstrating that collective identity theory can be used to develop a valid and reliable measure of farmer identity and to then classify rural landholders across a natural resource management (NRM) region. The contribution of this paper is to explain how that measure of farmer identity can be mapped and then demonstrate the relevance of doing so for regional NRM in Australia. As expected, farmer identity varied across the case study region with distance from urban centres, and across different environmental assets. Those findings should lead to a more targeted approach to landholder engagement in NRM. We suggest that farmer identity (i.e. farmer-collective occupational identity construct; F-COIC) might provide a next step for responding to the challenges of interpreting and mapping multi-functionality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-383
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Geographer
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017

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