The attribution of self amongst Australian family farm operators: Personal responsibility and control
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
Australian agriculture is dominated both numerically and in terms of production by family owned and operated farm enterprises. Many family fanners struggle to maintain farm viability amidst the ongoing commitment to a trade liberal paradigm in Australian agricultural policy. Significantly, governmental neoliberal discourses insist on Australian farmers taking personal responsibility and control for any socio-economic hardship or farm viability problems they face and down play structural explanations. In this article we argue that the intent of this discourse, if internalised by individual family farm operators, creates the potential for self-blame where fanners "fail". To investigate this argument, open-ended responses from a survey of farmers in a NSW rural local government area were examined using an extension of attribution theory from social psychology. The analysis identifies how individual family farm operators have actually engaged with these discourses and the extent to which the attributions these discourses encapsulate are replicated, transformed, or contested. Areas for future research, including impacts of attributions on family farm operators' psychological health, are discussed.