Attributions of Responsibility: Rural Neoliberalism and Farmers' Explanations of the Australian Rural Crisis

Darren Halpin, A. Guilfoyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)


Many farmers 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 neoliberal discursive environment creates the potential for self-blame where farmers 'fail'. To investigate this argument, open-ended responses from a survey of farmers in a NSW rural local government area were examined using coding categories of attribution theory from social psychology. The analysis identifies how individual farmers have borrowed from 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 psychological health and political mobilisation, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-111
Number of pages18
JournalRural Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


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