Social sustainability in agriculture: a media analysis

Nowadays, the term «sustainability» is ubiquitous – in politics, in science, and in everyday speech. What it means, however, and what ideas are associated with it, varies significantly. Thus, for example, the social dimension is largely neglected in the discourse on sustainability. Perception of sustainability is influenced inter alia by the media, political programmes or the social environment. We therefore examined the discourse on the social sustainability of agriculture in the Tages-Anzeiger, the most widely read Swiss daily newspaper. The study is based on qualitative and quantitative content analyses of articles published in the paper between 1997 and 2018. Over this period, 133 articles in the Tages-Anzeiger dealt with social sustainability in agriculture, with the most common topics such as «living conditions» and «work» (except for wages) often dealing with agriculture in developing countries. In a second data collection, articles from the same period which addressed the social topics of agriculture without mentioning the term «sustainability» were analysed. These 94 articles dealt with issues such as equal rights for women, problems of family farms, stress or suicide. Thus, the Tages-Anzeiger articles tend to highlight the social problems of the southern hemisphere rather than those of Swiss farmers in connection with the topic of sustainability.

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