Who are you and who are you not? Discourse and Agency in Sustainability Research

Leonard Palmer

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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How do we understand who we are when the traditional foundations of identity become undermined by ideas that stress the interactive, relational, performative and contextual dimensions of identity as subjectivity? This paper reports on the use of a methodological approach based on foucauldian insights on subjectivity and discourse in research on sustainable grazing in Australian agriculture. Specifically, several attempts to identify the workings of subjectification (discourse, subjectivity and agency) are reported from research on sustainable grazing. The paper firstly reports on aspects of a small survey (n = 85) undertaken among visitors to the Australian National Field Days at Borenore near Orange, NSW, in 2001. The research shows the relevance of a discourse approach. The paper secondly reports on a pilot study, where a range of issues were examined around the question of sustainable grazing adoption, ie why have some graziers adopted sustainable grazing practices, and some not? What emerged was a very interesting issue wherein some graziers changed their stance on whether they had undertaken any sustainable grazing. The challenges of carrying out this kind of research yield ontological, epistemological and methodological issues of relevance to contemporary sociological research seeking to engage with the world in a postructuralist way.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRevisioning Institutions
Subtitle of host publicationChange in the 21st Century. TASA 2004 Conference, revisioning sociology
EditorsKaty Richmond
Place of PublicationLa Trobe Bundoora Vic
PublisherLa Trobe University
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)0959846042
Publication statusPublished - 2004
EventAustralian Sociological Association. Conference - Beechworth Vic, Australia
Duration: 08 Dec 200411 Dec 2004


ConferenceAustralian Sociological Association. Conference


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