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Animal disease and narratives of nature: Farmers' reactions to the neoliberal governance of bovine tuberculosis

Maye, Damien, Enticott, Gareth, Naylor, Rhiannon, Ilbery, Brian and Kirwan, James 2014. Animal disease and narratives of nature: Farmers' reactions to the neoliberal governance of bovine tuberculosis. International Journal of Rural Studies 36 , pp. 401-410. 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2014.07.001

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between neoliberal styles of animal disease governance and farmers' understandings of disease and nature. In the UK, new styles of animal disease governance has promised to shift the costs and responsibilities of disease management to farmers, creating opportunities for farmers to take responsibility for disease control themselves and opening up new markets for disease control interventions. Focussing on the management of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) and drawing on interviews with 65 cattle farmers, the paper examines how farmer responses to these new styles of animal disease governance are shaped by their own knowledges and understandings of nature and disease. In particular, the paper examines how two key narratives of nature – the idea of ‘natural balance’ and ‘clean and dirty badgers’ – lead farmers to think about the control of bTB in wildlife (such as the choice between badger culling and/or vaccination) in very specific ways. However, whilst discourses of cost and responsibility appear to open up choice opportunities for farmers, that choice is constrained when viewed from the perspective of farmer subjectivities and narratives of nature. Discourses of neoliberalism as control rather than choice are therefore revealed, drawing attention to the complexities and plural strategies of neoliberal governance.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bovine TB; Badger culling; Badger vaccination; Neoliberalism; Farmer subjectivities; Narratives of nature
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1023-2001
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2019 09:04
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/71167

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