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Cush, P, Macken-Walsh, A, Byrne, A
Journal Of Rural Studies
Joint Farming Ventures in Ireland: Gender identities of the self and the social
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Optional Fields
Gender Agency Cooperation Joint Farming Ventures Ireland Agriculture MASCULINITY WOMEN TRANSITION ROLES POWER AGRICULTURE UK
Decades of research have shown farm women to occupy a subjugated position in family farming, without recourse for meaningful input to decision-making on the farm. Despite the structurally deterministic leanings of the literature, studies have also highlighted the capacity of farm women to exercise agency and manoeuvre around patriarchal norms in agriculture. Women's off-farm work in particular is frequently cited as a source of empowerment for farm women. However, little attention is paid to the joint strategies of how both men and women together challenge the dominant narrative of gender on the family farm. Drawing from qualitative research with Irish farmers involved in Joint Farming Ventures (JFVs), which are formal arrangements for the co-management of farms, our analysis coheres around the three concepts of gender, identity and agency. We explore the significance of JFVs in exploring questions of self and social identity. We examine to what extent JFVs represent changing self-identities and a sense of agency for women on farms, and whether they imbue altering social identities for women on Irish farms. More generally, we consider the extent to which JFVs, involving women as co-owners of farms, evidence a departure from patriarchal agriculture and patrilineal ownership. While attentive to patriarchy, the narratives of women and men illustrate an alternative discourse of farming, constituted of increasingly equitable relationships; women occupying the position of 'farmer', and the confirmation and a reinforcing of their position by men. Aspects of identity are explored through the roles men and women now occupy, the family and farming groups to which they belong and how these are freighted by the category of gender. Moreover, we critically assess the extent to which JFVs enhance agency and make these type of identities possible. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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