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Interpersonal communication and the adoption of innovations among strawberry growers in the lower Fraser Valley Alleyne, Egbert Patrick


This study is the second in a series of rural sociological studies relevant to the adoption of innovations by farmers in the Lower Fraser Valley of British Columbia. The adoption performance of strawberry growers, as measured by an adoption score computed for each respondent, was used for classifying the individuals into adopter categories. This classification was then used as the basis for further analysis of: (1) the relationship between adoption and socio-economic characteristics, (2) the relationship between ethnicity and adoption, (3) the differential use of information sources, (4) the innovation response state, (5) reasons for delay in the adoption process and for rejection. The level of adoption, as indicated by four adopter categories, correlated positively and significantly with social participation, size of farm, acreage in strawberry, gross income from agriculture, strawberry, and from other agricultural enterprises; the amount of farm labour employed for harvesting, and estimated farm value. Age was negatively correlated with adoption. There was no significant relationship with a number of other variables studied. Extension contact was the most important single variable which showed a significant positive association with adoption. The relationship was strongest for personal contact with the District Horticulturist. A relatively high level of practice adoption is indicated by an average of 4.12 adoptions from the total of 6 innovations studied. Characteristics of the innovation accounted for almost one-half of the reasons for delay, and about one-third for rejection. Situational factors, relevant to the particular circumstances of the respondents, were the reasons given most frequently, especially among the early adopters. Ethnic groupings included Mennonites, Japanese and "Other" respondents. Differences were significant for 16 socio-economic characteristics, besides differential levels of extension contact. Japanese, who were the most experienced growers, were characterized by the lowest levels of adoption performance and extension contact. Mennonite growers were the least educated and were intermediate in practice adoption. Information sources were classified into two categories and personal sources were the most frequently used by all adopter categories in both. When classified by Origin, Government sources were second in importance, followed by Commercial and Farm Organization. When classified by the Nature of the Activity, on the other hand, the order of importance was individual instructional, instructional group and mass media. The study included an analysis of the patterns of interpersonal communication among the growers, both in their search for advice and in informal visiting on a friendship basis. Opinion leaders, identified by sociometric procedures, were mostly early adopters. Sociometric choices extended predominantly to growers in higher adopter categories, or to others at the same level of adoption. There were no dyadic relationships extending from Japanese respondents to other ethnic groups. Selection by other ethnic groups among themselves also did not exceed 30 per cent in any instance. The distribution of sociometric choices either by adopter category or ethnic origin were statistically significant. Interpersonal communication among growers was also largely confined to growers in the community network. Opinion leadership was positively associated with high socio-economic status, including high social participation, and the ability to keep informed on aspects of their commercial enterprise from sources close to the origin of new information.

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