Women in Farming: A Social Economy of Multi-Family and Single Family Farms in Saskatchewan
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This study examines the experiences of forty-five women in thirty farm operations in Saskatchewan under a comparative framework. Interviews were conducted with fifteen women who live and work on conventional one- and two-family farms and with thirty women who live and work on multi-household, multi-operator, farming operations. The field data addressed personal biography and background; involvements in farm work, off-farm work, and farm management; contributions to the mobilization of capital, land, and labour resources; experience as a family and household member; involvements in other aspects of rural community life; and women's views of farming, the future of agriculture, and the prospects for women in farming. For the thirty women from multi-household, group operations, the field investigation also addressed the circumstances surrounding participation, decision making, formal membership status, and social relations under more complex forms of organization. This comparative approach revealed some of the interactions that take place between farm organizational structure and the experiences women have as part of this structure. This research also revealed the pervasive character of patriarchal social relations in rural Saskatchewan. The findings suggest that women from group farm operations are generally as marginalized as their counterparts on traditional one- and two-family farms. Farm organizational structure is not the only innovation required to overcome structural, cultural and social inequities in the rural landscape.