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Mythologization of farming styles in Australian broadacre cropping


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Howden, P and Vanclay, F 2000 , 'Mythologization of farming styles in Australian broadacre cropping' , Rural Sociology, vol. 65, no. 2 , pp. 295-310 .

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Farming styles theory, as developed by Jan Douwe van der Ploeg to explain diversity in agriculture, is being considered as a possible tool to assist in targeting of extension in Australia. A farming style is a socially constructed type that reflects the worldviews and strategies of one configuration of farming practice for a particular commodity (or common combination of commodities) in a particular region. The various farming styles in a region represent a repertoire of possible worldviews and strategies. We first conducted focus groups to identify farming styles among Australian broadacre croppers. We then conducted case studies to validate these styles, and to gain further understanding of the rationale of each style. The case studies, however, failed to confirm the styles. The findings instead suggested that the styles which emerged from the focus groups were artifacts of the method. We conclude that focus group methodology legitimized the expression of stereotypical images grounded in local farming discourse and provided an avenue for reification of "mythological" styles, although the styles still provided social control over farmers' activities. Researchers should be aware that focus groups potentially allow the expression of mythology, and should reflect on the validity of data collected by this method.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Howden, P and Vanclay, F
Journal or Publication Title: Rural Sociology
ISSN: 0036-0112
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