Comparing a 'budge' to a 'nudge': farmer responses to voluntary and compulsory compliance in a water quality management regime
A set of choice related interventions exist for ‘nudging’ individuals towards socially desirable behaviours. Conversely, regulation, which we refer as ‘budging’, implies a reduction in the choice-set for these individuals. We compare the voluntary adoption of water quality management techniques between farmers within a designated Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) with those outside the zone across Scotland. Divergent groups emerge towards the purpose of the regulation, responsibility towards water pollution issues and compliance towards the regulation. There were significantly higher levels of adoption of some voluntary water quality measures by members of the non-designated group. We argue that engagement with these farmers should not focus purely on the biophysical division under which they are designated but should include the range of attitudinal alignments should include across designations in order to change social norms. This would be an approach for raising the social capital of farmers within a community and engender long-term behavioural change.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Journal of Rural Studies