Preliminary Report On Social Science Theoretical Framework

Anja Byg*, Katrina Brown, Dominic Duckett, Gareth Enticott, Nicolas Fortane, Claire Hardy, Kieron O'Mahony, Orla Shorthall, Lee-Anne Sutherland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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This report presents an overview of the conceptual approaches underpinning work package 2 (WP2) of the ROADMAP project. ROADMAP focuses on antimicrobial resistance and the use of antimicrobials in different animal farming systems. Work package 2 is the work package which focuses on practices and processes at the farm level. The theoretical framework is organised into a cascade of concepts, which seek to conceptualise the major change processes which need to occur on farm in order for antimicrobial use (AMU)to be reduced. The overarching approach is Sutherland et al.’s (2012) ‘triggering change model’, which identifies trigger points for major changes in farming practices. This model posits that farms are largely path dependent, reflecting ‘sunk costs’ of land, infrastructure, and knowledge, as well as established patterns of knowledge seeking and professional identity development. When major changes in farming trajectory occur, these are primarily in response to trigger events –major events or phenomena (such as retirement of a farmer or integration of a farm successor, a major disease outbreak, and prolonged unprofitability of the farming operation). These events lead farmers to active reconsider their practices and evaluate new options. If a viable option is found and proven successful, it becomes part of the new path dependency. Path dependencies are thus both social and structural. To further consider these issues, the theoretical framework embeds concepts of ‘good farming’, which consider how farmers’ role performances and associated symbols influence farming practices. The research is also informed by the multi-level perspective, which consider the role of actors outside of the farm –such as processors, suppliers, super-markets, government bodies, as well as governance arrangements (e.g. markets, regulatory context) in influencing AMU. Particularly for intensive, vertically integrated farming operations, decisions about AMU may largely be decided outside the farm level. WP2 focuses at farm level, but integrates these concepts the multi-level perspective to ensure that these issues are recognised. Supply chains are addressed specifically inWP1 andWP5.The empirical research in WP2 is also expected to benefit from the integration of a range of other concepts which are useful for understanding AMU and placing empirical findings within recent literature on animal human relations more broadly. These approaches include biosecurity studies, risk society, science and technology studies, social practice theory, and care and more-than-human approaches. Not all of these approaches are theories as such, or are necessarily unified fields of enquiry. Some should instead be regarded as focal lenses homing in on particular topics and aspects. We do not here attempt to combine these different approaches into one coherent approach or to create yet another, new approach. Instead, we seek to highlight how the different approaches can help to bring attention to different aspects of antimicrobial use and resistance. The theoretical framework directly influences the methodological approach adopted in the work package. The theoretical framework concludes with an overview of the methods undertaken in WP2, to inform surveys and qualitative interviews with veterinarians, farmers and farm employees. These com-prise typology development, narrative inquiry and discourse analysis
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEuropean Commission
Commissioning bodyEuropean Commission
Number of pages72
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2022


  • antimicrobial use
  • livestock disease control
  • preliminary
  • social science theoretical framework


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