ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

How does farming as an occupational identity 'fit' within the overall personal identity of rural landholders and is it possible to classify those landholders using a collective identity construct? (2012-2015)

ILWS Strategic Research Area
Social research for Regional Natural Resource Management

CSU PhD scholarship and NCGRT top-up

Investigators/ Researchers
Theresa Groth (PhD student) Supervisors: Prof Allan Curtis (principal) Emily Mendham & Eric Toman (The Ohio State University, Ohio, United States


In Australia and the United States many rural areas are no longer dominated by agricultural uses, but are shaped by a mix of production, consumption and conservation values. An important driver of this trend to multifunctional landscapes is the influx of non-farmers to rural areas. An identity is complex and unique to each individual who holds an identity. Recent advances in the theory of collective identity provide the opportunity to explore the nature and role of farming identity from a much stronger theoretical foundation than previous research, including recent Australian studies attempting to develop typologies of rural landholders. The seven elements (self-categorization, evaluation, importance, attachment and sense of interdependence, social embeddedness, behavioural involvement, and content and meaning) of the collective identity construct appear to provide much of that "missing link".

This project will use a mixed methods approach to understand the role and outcomes of farming identity in an international context (i.e. Australia and the United States). A comparative case study between Ohio, United States and Victoria, Australia will comprise a part of this research. The goal is to learn how a farmer identity fits in to the overall personal identity of rural landholders in multifunctional rural landscapes.


Groth T., Curtis A, Mendham E, Toman E., Farmer identity in multifunctional landscapes: Using a collective identity construct to explore the nature and impact of occupational identity, Australian Geographer - forthcoming.

Groth.T.(2013) 'The importance of collective identities in managing changing rural landscapes' presented at 19th Annual International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM) on June 4-8, 2013, Colorado, United States.


Outcomes from this research will improve our knowledge of how occupational identities influence land management practices. NRM agencies could use this to more directly target landholders based on their occupation rather than if they are a farmer or not. The second proposed outcomes would be a theoretical typology of landholders that would be more applicable in a wider NR setting.

Theresa Groth
Charles Sturt University – Albury

September 2013