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Document Type

Open Access

Degree Program

Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

2011

Month Degree Awarded

September

Keywords

cultural discourse, ethnography of communication, discursive practices, human-nature relations, hunting, food studies

Abstract

This study is a description and interpretation of talk about hunting. The study is based on data gathered from in-depth interviews with twenty-four hunters in the United States who did not become hunters until adulthood. A single overarching research question guides the study: How do people create and use discourses of hunting? The study is situated within the ethnography of communication research program and, more specifically, within the framework of cultural discourse analysis. The study employs cultural discourse analysis methods and concepts to describe and develop interpretations of how participants render hunting symbolically meaningful, and of what beliefs and values underlie such meanings. The major descriptive findings include recurrent patterns of talk concerning: connecting with land and nature, spirit, other people, human ancestry, and human nature; taking responsibility in ecological, ethical, and health-related ways, both through hunting and through other practices such as gardening; being engaged, present, alert, excited, and challenged; killing for appropriate reasons, in appropriate ways, and with appropriate feeling; and living and acting in response to a modern world that diminishes human experience, brutalizes animals, and harms the natural world. The major interpretive findings include hunting being linked to other practices such as gardening, and being spoken of as a deeply meaningful pursuit practiced for the feelings of connection, engagement, and right relationship that it fosters, and as a physically and spiritually healthful remedy for the negative effects of modern living and of industrial food systems. This research demonstrates that hunting and talk about hunting can be underpinned by common beliefs and values shared by hunters, non-hunters, and anti-hunters. This research also suggests that adult-onset hunters and their discursive practices may be of unique value to wildlife agencies and conservation organizations, to other adult onset-hunters, and to both scholarly and public understandings of—and dialogues about—the practice of hunting.

First Advisor

Donal Carbaugh

Second Advisor

Benjamin Bailey

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