Social representations and uses of pesticides : the case of French farmers and students

[Speaker] Weiss, Karine:1
[Co-author] Zouhri, Bouchra:2, Levasseur, Elodie:3, Valette, Armance:1
1:University of Nîmes (France), 2:Aix-Marseille University (France), 3:Lyon 2 University (France)

Phytosanitary products constitute an important societal issue, both for policy makers and for consumers. Our main goal was to study the social representation and the use of pesticides among farmers and students in agriculture in three French areas, with different geo-climatic specificities: Southern France, Brittany and Martinique.
Three different protocols have been used: (1) a hierarchical evocation questionnaire (n=378), associated with (2) a Context Independence Test (n=275) and (3) semi-directive interviews (n=71).

The main results show the existence of different social representations of pesticides according to the subjects' practices, linked to their locations and status. Depending on these factors, the representations and discourses are more or less oriented towards sanitary and environmental risks, protection behaviors, and stigmatisation of the farmers. Interviews allowed understanding the links between representations, risks perceptions, and professional practices.
These results confirmed the importance of considering psychosocial aspects when attempting to reduce pesticide use among farmers.
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