Shifting environmental perspectives in agriculture: repeated Q analysis and the stability of preference structures

Ben Davies, Ian Hodge

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    45 Citations (Scopus)


    A critical issue in behavioural environmental studies is the evolution of attitudes over time. This analysis reports a unique longitudinal study of individual farmers’ perspectives using Q methodology, with a group of UK farmers’ opinions assessed in both 2001 and 2008. Three main outcomes are evident. Firstly, the set of farmers’ perspectives identified in 2001 appears to be still adequate to summarise the range of views present in 2008; thus substantially newsets of concerns do not appear to be forming over this period. Secondly, the proportions of farmers aligning themselves with particular perspectives appear to have shifted, indicating some clear reorientations of attitudes. Thirdly, these shifts indicate a small number of specific directions of change, oriented towards more productivist positions and away from more environmental interests. In summary, the key dimensions of agri-environmental concern amongst farmers overall do not appear to be significantly changing over this period, but the proportions of farmers that are sensitive to particular concerns do appear to have undergone some change. Given the unusual methodology, sample size and recruitment methods used these resultsmost certainly cannot be translated into population-wide effects, but they do provide a valuable opportunity for consideration of pathways of change.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)51-57
    Number of pages7
    JournalEcological Economics
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


    • farmers
    • environmental attitudes
    • agriculture
    • temporal change
    • Q methodology
    • UK


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