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Volume 13 Issue 1 (2005)

Farm Women: Driving Tractors and Negotiating Gender                                                                                                           1-18

Author: Barbara Pini
Affiliation: School of Management, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract             PDF

This paper uses data from focus groups with eighty women involved in the Australian sugar industry, and draws on feminist post-structural theory to explore the construction of gendered identities in on-farm physical work. The key focus is on the strategies women engage to negotiate their gendered subject positions while undertaking a role typically defined as “men’s work”. Findings are compared with a similar study undertaken by Brandth in 1994. While many of the strategies adopted by the cane farming women to manage gender are similar to those described by the Norwegian farming women in the previous study, one “new” discursive strategy has emerged by which women may claim both a feminine subjectivity and involvement in tractor work. This is the adoption of a “farm as business” discourse. This discourse reconstitutes the “farm” as a “business” and the “farmer” and “farm wife” as “business partners”. While this may provide a discursive space for women to be legitimate actors in all aspects of the enterprise, the paper concludes by drawing attention to the factors that make it unlikely that such a possibility will be realized.

International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759