Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Committee Chair

Livia K. Stone


This study investigates the evolution of the family farm between the 1940s until the 2020s, and how the family farm may continue to evolve in future generations. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between the changing reality of agriculture and how farmers think about themselves. In the early days of the United States republic, farms were a means of providing a family or localized community with food and resources. These farms participated in an economic exchange that was an early form of capitalism, characterized by meeting needs but not accruing egregious excess. Today’s agricultural system is marked by the pressures to compete in the marketplace, and a shift in cultural values away from balanced reciprocity to the farmer’s individual entrepreneurial spirit. Farmers interviewed in this study expressed a range of emotions and perceptions regarding these shifting cultural values. Many farmers interviewed expressed a sense of anxiety about the growing pressures of the neoliberal market on farmers, the powerlessness that farmers face in the unpredictable nature of the markets, and the loss of hallmark perceptions of previous forms of agriculture, such as balanced reciprocity.


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