Partners in Production? Women, Farm, and Family in Ireland

Partners in Production? Women, Farm, and Family in Ireland

Partners in Production? Women, Farm, and Family in Ireland

Partners in Production? Women, Farm, and Family in Ireland

Synopsis

In Ireland, family farming is one of the last preserves of male dominance, in which women's concerns are overlooked. Based mainly on interviews with farm women, O'Hara's study identifies the ways in which they challenge their apparent subordination.

Excerpt

Family farming is distinctive in that family members are engaged, simultaneously and in the same site, in producing goods for the market and for their own consumption. the usually clear-cut distinctions between production/consumption/reproduction, home and work are blurred. Clearly, gender relations lie at the very heart of the family farm business and are fundamental to the continuity of family farming as a social form. Indeed access to farming and the ownership of land and other assets are all structured on the basis of gender. Women work on family farms while they also bear and rear a new generation of farm children who are potential family farm labour. Yet much of the theorising about family farming in advanced capitalist societies has been based on unitary notions of the farm family where internal consensus is taken for granted and/or the coincidence of farm and family is ignored or considered irrelevant. the emphasis has been on the articulation of family farming with external capitals rather than on internal family relations. However, attempting to explore women's influence on the evolution of family farming involves looking inside the 'black box' of the farm family and requires a broadening of traditional theoretical horizons beyond the farm itself.

Feminist theories of the household and the family (the two are of course not necessarily synonymous, but they generally are in contemporary family farming in Ireland) have provided some important insights into intra-family processes. But here too, much of the focus has been on the relationship between capitalism and the family, particularly in attempts to theorise women's domestic labour. Farm families, as such . . .

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