Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Gendered Work in Family Farm Tourism

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Gendered Work in Family Farm Tourism

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In this paper we explore gender aspects of farm tourism. In many regions and countries tourism has become a valuable source of additional or alternative income as farming has encountered problems. As an alternative to farming, tourism is one component of the changes in agriculture and the countryside from productivism to post-productivism and multifunctionality. In these processes there is a reduced emphasis on food production and increased focus on non-agricultural pursuits such as recreation and consumption. Understanding tourism as a transformative cultural force, we will in this paper study the micro level of work and the gendered implications of the transformation of farm enterprises from food production to tourism, or from primary production to a service industry.

While agricultural change has been studied intensively from a structural or top-down perspective, the shift in agency, identity and relationships of agricultural actors that may accompany structural changes, have remained largely unexplored (Burton and Wilson, 2006). There are, however, strong reasons to believe that micro-level consequences of agricultural change are varied and multi-faceted, and that they do not automatically follow in the same pattern as structural changes. In their study from the UK Burton and Wilson (2006) demonstrated that there is a temporal discrepancy between structural change and farm identity in that farmers are still dominated by productivist self-concepts despite post-productivist undertakings. This is very much in accordance with gender studies that have found the family farm discourse to be particularly persistent, the master narrative of men and women being that of the farmer and farmer's wife (Brandth, 2002). Despite much documentation on variations and changing practices of men and women in the wake of structural changes, gender differences are often considered as natural, and in agriculture, gender divisions seem particularly clear and direct.

On the other hand, there are studies that have found 'traditional' farm identities to be influenced by post-productivist factors (Brandth and Haugen, 2005; Reed, 2003; Warn, 2006), and that gendered farm identities change in a way that incorporates old and new roles. In a study of forestry Brandth and Haugen (2005) noted that commodifying local natural and cultural resources makes it necessary for rural men to "look like local foresters/native rural dwellers, think like businessmen, and act like tourist hosts" (p. 19). Furthermore, studies have pointed out that rural tourism may represent a threat to local culture and occupational identities in the primary industry (Petrzelka et al., 2005), and that this in part may account for negative local attitudes towards change in general and tourism in particular. In their study of farmers who started tourism on their farms as an alternative source of income to agriculture, Busby and Rendle (2000) noticed that the farmers slowly divorced themselves from agriculture as revenue from tourism increased.

The family farm is and has been the basic unit of agricultural production in most Western countries. In contrast to most modern forms of work organisation, this is a form in which work and power are based on a heterosexual partnership. The gendering of family farming has been the object of much research over the last couple of decades (see reviews by Brandth, 2002; Little and Panelli, 2003). Its patriarchal gender hierarchy and its valuing of the masculine over what is understood as feminine, have made women and women's work invisible and belittled (Alston, 1995; O'Hara, 1998; Haugen, 1998). The relations of production in which women work (the patriarchal household) have been seen as explanations of why their work is often dismissed as domestic (Whatmore, 1991). When the distinctions between productive and reproductive areas are blurred as they are for women in family farming, the definition of work in terms of paid work has not turned out to farm women's advantage. …

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