Identifying and measuring agrarian sentiment in regional Australia

Berry, Helen Louise and Botterill, Linda Courtenay and Cockfield, Geoff and Ding, Ning (2016) Identifying and measuring agrarian sentiment in regional Australia. Agriculture and Human Values, 33 (4). pp. 929-941. ISSN 0889-048X


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.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Commerce (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Commerce (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2017 03:44
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2017 23:49
Uncontrolled Keywords: agrarianism, agrarian index
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160804 Rural Sociology
16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160601 Australian Government and Politics
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management > 070101 Agricultural Land Management
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441003 Rural sociology
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440801 Australian government and politics
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3002 Agriculture, land and farm management > 300202 Agricultural land management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 94 Law, Politics and Community Services > 9402 Government and Politics > 940201 Civics and Citizenship
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