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Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 2–17 | Cite as

Individualism, efficiency, and domesticity: Ideological aspects of the exploitation of farm families and farm women

  • Jane Adams
Articles
  • 153 Downloads

Abstract

A complex conjuncture of ideological constructions obscured and rationalized the systematic exploitation of farm women. First, farming and homemaking, to which people cling in an attempt to avert the alienation of wage labor, provide a basis for evaluating one's labor in terms that, ironically, makes them vulnerable to super-exploitation. Second, agrarian ideologies, with their strongly patriarchal bias, did not allow women to understand themselves as public actors. Modernizing elite ideologies, specifically the equation of entrepreneurial individualism and efficiency with “progress” and affluence, and the “cult of domesticity” with its redefinition of men's and women's roles, promised women greater equality within the family; however, these normative codes simultaneously opened the farm and home to greater dependence on capitalist markets. The ideology of entrepreneurial individualism also provided templates through which farm men and women (mis)understood their relative poverty as being the result of private, individual choices. In addition, virtually all media assumed a sector differentiated only by commodity, rendering size, class, or other distinctions invisible. Finally, the ideology of separate spheres, as it developed in the nineteenth century, created a segmented and discriminatory labor market for women. The period focused on, the late 1940s and the 1950s, was crucial in establishing the terms of the post-War order.

Keywords

Public Actor Farm Family Wage Labor Relative Poverty Great Equality 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

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  • Jane Adams

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