The lay beliefs about Farming for Health


  • E. Fjeldavli


This article presents the arguments and motives of farmers offering services on their farms and the arguments of those who buy such services. These are analysed from data of a research project which has revealed disagreements as well as agreements about the health potential of agricultural welfare services. The variety in interpretations is questioned in this article. The theoretical approach is social constructivism: seeing argumentation as thoughts and beliefs about health. Lay beliefs are not to be seen as opposed to scientific knowledge. Lay concepts are in common use in society and they are a mix of know-how and informal expertise, tacit knowledge and lay experiences, often based on main norms of society. Beliefs about health are rooted in wider socio-cultural contexts and they are not simply diluted versions of medical knowledge; rather they are shaped by people’s wider milieu such as their structural location, cultural context, personal biography and social identity. The most challenging result is the variance in arguments between health-care professionals of public authorities and farmers. While farmers focus on the general lay beliefs of social relations, healing by working and a well-arranged environment, the representatives of the health-care profession stress the benefit of the farm as a primary producer. This type of argument claims the farmer to be ‘real’ and the farm to be authentic if the services would be optimal regarding healing and salutogenic effects