Moral responsibility, economic advantage and the conflation of interests and attitudes towards kangaroo culling

Peter Denyer-Simmons, Mehmet Mehmet

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The culling of kangaroos is a highly contentious issue in Australian society. It is important that the people who make and communicate decisions concerning wildlife understand attitudes of their communities. Studies of popular engagement with environmental issues are increasingly reporting that individuals’ attitudes and values filter incoming information concerning the environment. Attitudes towards the environment and its management conflate with that individual’s perception of the interests and lives of people like them. Some general findings from the US have been that progressives and those who score higher on self-transcendent values are more likely to see the environment in terms of moral responsibility than conservatives and those who score higher on self-enhancement values (Feinberg and Willer, 2013). To better understand attitudes and engagement with environment we would be aided more by understanding social or religious influences than science literacy (Nisbet and Scheufele, 2009).

Social media provide an abundant but unwieldy and challenging source of attitude data. This study used qualitative appraisal method to analyse Facebook comments in public discussions to explore attitudes to the culling of kangaroos. The findings are consistent with existing theories about wildlife attitudes and various interests and subcultures. Individual attitudes were often complex and contradictory, but two main groups were identified, Cullers, who favour culling, and Guardians, who oppose culling. Both sides appropriated ‘science’ to support their own position, although Guardians tended to express their opposition to culling in terms of moral responsibility. Cullers tended not to refer to moral responsibility, but to economic gain or human inconvenience reduction to justify culling kangaroos. Cullers frequently expressed their position as pro-rural, profarmer,anti-green, and anti-urban. For decision-makers, appraisal method helps to identify and understand the interaction and the influences of social and economic interests and urban / rural influences on attitudes andultimately, the welfare of kangaroos.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventLand Dialogues Conference 2016 - Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia
Duration: 13 Apr 201615 Apr 2016 (conference program)


ConferenceLand Dialogues Conference 2016
CityWagga Wagga
OtherThe inaugural Land Dialogues Conference three days of presentations of interdisciplinary scholarship by researchers working in dialogue with, within or about land. The conference covers diverse and divergent approaches to the key thematic phrase ‘Land Dialogues’ and especially encourage interdisciplinary attitudes to place/space and human/non-human convergence discourses.
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