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Web-based discourse on agriculture among the general public: Comparing Germany and Switzerland

Stefan Mann (ART, Ettenhausen, Switzerland)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 5 January 2015




The discourse about agriculture within Switzerland’s and Germany’s public is to be compared in order to obtain an idea about the impact of the different agricultural systems. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


After a brief description of agricultural systems and policies in Germany and Switzerland, the discourse among the general public in the two countries in internet newsrooms and message boards is analyzed. The subjects of discussions are compared, and selected sequences are analyzed using objective hermeneutics.


Results indicate that, in Germany, agriculture is largely perceived as a black box where food safety is a crucial issue. Although food safety also is discussed in Switzerland, Swiss discussants focus more on changes that should be implemented in agricultural production and policy systems.

Research limitations/implications

The quantitative and qualitative evaluation of newsrooms and message boards reveals important insights, particularly in a comparative setting.

Practical implications

A small-structured agriculture may contribute to generate trust in the reliability of food safety among consumers.


The discourse on German and Swiss internet platforms on agricultural issues reveals significant differences which shows that such an analysis allows important insights.



The author is grateful for support from the Research Council of Norway (Project 216094).


Mann, S. (2015), "Web-based discourse on agriculture among the general public: Comparing Germany and Switzerland", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 1, pp. 388-399.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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