Creating a public space for women in US agriculture: Empowerment, organization and social change

  • Wells B
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This paper situates women in the public space of US agriculture by chronicling the development of the Women Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN). WFAN has grown from concern about systemic problems in agriculture; the dissonance between agricultural policy and women's knowledge and experiences; a desire to give voice to women on issues of food, agriculture, community and natural systems; and the belief in women's capacity to engage in a strategic and embodied agricultural politics. WFAN's emergence reflects the often inhospitable terrain and organizational challenges for women in agriculture. The author, as participant observer, constructs a partial, second-order interpretation of WFAN as a potential social movement organization (SMO). She evokes the notion of direct theory, suggesting that WFAN theorizes about social change through practice, that member-theorists and member-activists contribute to social knowledge. WFAN's formauve structures, processes and practices are shown to parallel those of SMOs, associations of persons challenging dominant social constructions of what is realistic, reasonable, and ethical.

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  • Betty L. Wells

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