Agrarian femininity in a state of flux: multiple roles of Finnish farm women

Gender Regimes, Citizen Participation and Rural Restructuring

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1420-1, eISBN: 978-1-84950-489-8

ISSN: 1057-1922

Publication date: 18 December 2007


In rural gender studies, the dominant forms of agrarian femininity are associated with the traditional role of being the farmer's spouse. According to Brandth (2002), “the discourse of family farming” has represented the hegemonic interpretation of how a typical farm woman lives and works on a farm owned and controlled by her husband, or by members of her husband's extended family. In this context, family farming has been characterised as patriarchal, and the position of farm women subordinated. Whereas the head of the farm is a man, who supervises activities and makes decisions, a woman is responsible for household tasks and routine agricultural activities. Hence, agrarian femininity is conditioned by this gendered division of labour. A farm woman's feminine identity is “tied to her marital contract assuming the identity of a farmer's wife” (Brandth, 2002, p. 184), she has no independent status, thus her occupational identity is weak and hardly recognised. Homemaking also defines farm women “as mothers, tying the definitions of social roles to their biological functions” (Brandth, 2002, p. 184). Thus, a “good farm woman” can be defined as a caring woman in this discourse of family farming.


Sireni, M. (2007), "Agrarian femininity in a state of flux: multiple roles of Finnish farm women", Asztalos Morell, I. and Bock, B.B. (Ed.) Gender Regimes, Citizen Participation and Rural Restructuring (Research in Rural Sociology and Development, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 33-55.

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