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How organic farmers view their own practice: results from the Czech Republic

[journal article]

Zagata, Lukas

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Abstract This paper addresses the development of organic agriculture in the Czech Republic, which is seen as a success story among post-communist countries. The relatively short history of organic farming and specific contextual factors raises questions about the nature and meaning of Czech organic farming. The goal of this study was to find out how farmers view their own practice, interpret its symbolic value, and construct its content. This empirical study uses Q methodology aimed at the identification of the collectively-shared perspectives belonging engaged actors. Data were gathered through semi-standardized interviews with Czech farmers registered in official organic scheme. The analysis emphasized three components, which are considered as three distinct perspectives possessed by organic farmers; that is, (1) organic farming as a way of life, (2) as an occupation, and (3) as a production of food of an alternative quality compared to conventional food. Each viewpoint entails a different understanding of what organic farming means; each then—when considered together—comprises the meaning of organic agriculture in the Czech Republic. The presented classification of the farmers holding the viewpoints contributes to the ongoing theoretical discussion regarding the nature of the current organic sector, its development and potential conventionalization.
Keywords Czech Republic; post-socialist country; organic farming; agriculture; sustainability; organic product; motivation; farmer
Classification Rural Sociology; Ecology, Environment
Free Keywords Conventionalization; Czech Republic; Ecological farming; Organic food; Organic movement; Q methodology
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 277-290
Journal Agriculture and Human Values, 27 (2009) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)