Walder, Peter & Jochen Kantelhardt (2018, January). The environmental behaviour of farmers – Capturing the diversity of perspectives with a Q methodological approach. Ecological Economics, 143, 55-63. (doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.06.018) (accessible: https://www.wiso.boku.ac.at/fileadmin/data/H03000/H73000/H73300/pub/Biolandbau/2016_WalderKantelhardt_Ecological_Economics.pdf)

Abstract:The aim of this investigation is to understand more deeply farmers’ attitudes and behaviour towards multifunctional agricultural ecosystems and sustainable production. By discovering and describing these viewpoints in relation to a wider societal discourse, we are adding to a holistic picture of what role influencing factors play in farmers’ viewpoints towards natural resources. Consequently, we make use of a Q methodological approach which offers a way of identifying and describing the diversity of farmers’ viewpoints. Based on data from 30 farmers in Lower Austria we identify the Diversity-maintaining, the Context-depending, the Economic Aspects-emphasising and the Change-promoting viewpoints. To our knowledge, especially the Context-depending viewpoint in particular is not yet described in the scientific literature and, therefore, they allow a novel approach to treating environmental problems. Based on these markedly different notions, there are reasonable grounds for questioning a blanket approach from agricultural policies which does not take into account the specific differences of farmers’ mindsets. It can, instead, be argued that taking this diversity of mindsets into consideration when trying to alter behaviour can contribute to a more stable environmental performance, since specifics of various farmer-groups can be tackled with more accuracy.

Peter Walder <peter.walder@boku.ac.at> is in the Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Economics, University of Natural Resources and Life Science Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

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