Identifying and measuring agrarian sentiment in regional Australia

Helen BERRY, Linda BOTTERILL, Geoff Cockfield, Ning DING

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21 Citations (Scopus)
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In common with much of the Western world, agrarianism¿valuing farmers and agricultural activity as intrinsically worthwhile, noble, and contributing to the strength of the national character¿runs through Australian culture and politics. Agrarian sentiments and attitudes have been identified through empirical research and by inference from analysis of political debate, policy content, and studies of media and popular culture. Empirical studies have, however, been largely confined to the US, with little in the way of recent re-evaluations of, or developments from, early work. This paper reports on research that seeks quantitative empirical evidence for the existence of agrarianism in the Australian community and seeks to identify its core characteristics. Using a purpose-designed sub-set of items within a large, omnibus-style survey of regional and rural Australia, we demonstrate that agrarianism exists as a scientifically quantifiable concept identifiable through responses to four key propositions: that Australians should support policies aimed at improving the position of the agricultural industries; that working in agriculture and associated industries brings out the best in people; that agricultural producers make a major contribution to environmental protection and biodiversity conservation; and that the development of agriculture in Australia contributed to the development of the national character. We found very little variation in the degree to which different demographic groupings agree with agrarianism. Older people, farmers, and non-Indigenous Australian-born respondents were among those who were statistically significantly more likely to agree with the defining propositions of agrarianism, but their scores were only very slightly higher than those of other sub-populations in the sample.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-941
Number of pages13
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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