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Stevenson Center, family farming, Illinois, Nebraska


This thesis explores the social identities and the work and business strategies of five farming couples who had long farming careers in the Midwest. Much of the literature presented within this thesis discusses the hardships that family farmers face in today’s economy. However, the research also points to a strong attachment to farming and the farming lifestyle despite its many challenges. Using a qualitative interviewing method, I was interested in studying what meaning these farming couples attached to their work, including any gendered division of labor, and what survival techniques they had employed. I found that the five family farming couples from Illinois and Nebraska interviewed for this study used a variety of techniques best described as business savvy and technical knowledge to ensure their farms’ survival. These techniques included making decisions about the types of products produced, farming techniques, and financial planning. All of these decisions were made amidst a changing cultural climate and strongly influenced by their connections to family, friends, neighbors, the land, and the farming lifestyle.

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Sociology Commons