Talking sustainability: Identification and division in an Iowa community

Posted on 14 July 12


Herndl, Carl, Jean Goodwin, Lee Honeycutt, Greg Wilson, S. Scott Graham, and David Niedergeses. “Talking Sustainability: Identification and Division in an Iowa Community.” J. of Sustainable Agr. 35, no. 4 (Apr 1 2011): 436-61.

This study investigates how sustainability and its inherent values figure into farmers’ discourse, i.e., how farmers and members of farming communities talk about sustainability. We conducted qualitative interviews of various individuals in a single Iowa community to determine whether the visions guiding their land management choices resembled at all the ideals of a sustain- able agriculture. Using Kenneth Burke’s concepts of identifica- tion and division, we rhetorically analyzed the interview tran- scripts. We found animosity towards much green terminology but widespread commitment to environmental preservation, especially when aligned with economic interests. We highlight rhetorical strategies for promoting sustainable practices.

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