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Empowered by stigma? Pioneer organic farmers’ stigma management strategies

Lähdesmäki, Merja, Siltaoja, Marjo, Luomala, Harri, Puska, Petteri, Kurki, Sami
Journal of rural studies 2019 v.65 pp. 152-160
conventional farming, farmers, interviews, models, organic production, qualitative analysis, stigma
Pioneers of organic farming often faced social challenges as their innovative ideas on agriculture not only encountered opposition in the conventional farming community, but led to stigmatization of organic farmers as social deviants. In this study, we examine what kind of stigma management strategies pioneer organic farmers engage with in order to cultivate an alternative positive image of themselves. Our research is based on the interviews with 14 pioneer organic farmers. Based on a qualitative analysis of the interviews, we provide a model of those strategies that the creation from a stigmatized to valued identity requires. Our study increases the understanding of the institutionalization process of organic farming by demonstrating how pioneer organic farmers overcame the negative attributes associated with their farmer identities while actively building a new agricultural category which was different from that of conventional farming.