Bushfire and everyday life: Examining the awareness-action 'gap' in changing rural landscapes
In this paper we use the notion of 'everyday life' to critically examine an apparent 'gap' between bushfire risk awareness and preparedness amongst diverse landholders in rural landscapes affected by amenity-led in-migration in southeast Australia. Landholders were found to bring their own agency to bushfire preparedness in the relationships between everyday procedures, dilemmas, and tradeoffs. Consequently, regardless of landholders' awareness levels, attitudes towards bushfire and natural resource management influence if, how, and to what extent landowners prepare for bushfires. We argue that not only is the 'gap' complex but also paradoxical in that it is both evident in, and constituted by, landholder attitudes and action and simultaneously dissolved in their practices and decision-making in everyday life. Three dilemmas of everyday life in particular were found to underpin these attitudes: costs (in terms of monetary and time values), gender roles, and priorities. Using a mixed-methods research approach, this simultaneous cultural construction and material nature of bushfire in everyday life is mapped out through landholders' narratives and actions that embody living with fire on the land. The place of bushfire in landholders' everyday life has direct relevance to recent international discussions of the vulnerability of the growing number of people living in bushfire-prone rural-urban interface areas. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.