Embodied work in agriculture

Authored by: Berit Brandth

Routledge Handbook of Gender and Agriculture

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367190019
eBook ISBN: 9780429199752
Adobe ISBN:


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The chapter gives a brief overview of research addressing gender and embodiment in agricultural work in Europe, North-America, and Australia. It examines relevant themes of embodiment that are present in the literature on gender and work in agriculture from the mid-2000s until today. The connections between farm work and embodiment on both the symbolic and the practical levels are covered. Salient topics include 1) the organization of family farms as a strong form of heterosexual embodiment in which the marital relationship organizes and regulates farm production, 2) women and men’s work which emphasize male bodily advantage as the paramount symbol of agricultural work, 3) technology, both heavy machinery, that naturalizes men’s capacity to use machines, and automation and genetic technologies that affect the embodiment of farm work in new ways, 4) injuries or disease as a consequence of farm work. Farmers’ stoicism and their conformity to local cultural norms and collective expectations of masculine behavior are found to increase the risk of ill health. The chapter ends with a mention of topics not covered and a request for further research

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