Gendered elements of the alternative agriculture paradigm

  • Chiappe M
  • Flora C
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Abstract

The alternative agriculture paradigm has been a useful device to both define and direct a social movement toward a more sustainable agriculture. But because that paradigm was defined by male movement leaders, it reflects their gendered perspective and may be lacking elements that make it more useful for both women and men. In-depth interviews of women involved in sustainable farming organizations and on family farms experimenting with new practices validated the elements of the Beus and Dunlap paradigm: independence, decentralization, community, harmony with nature, diversity and restraint, but also suggested the addition of two other elements that the women identified as part of an alternative agriculture vision: quality family life and spirituality. The highly gendered nature of agriculture in the U.S. and Canada, where male identity is highly conflated with the role of farmer in the conventional paradigm, may make it more difficult for men who have just joined the movement to articulate the aspects of quality family life and spirituality which the women saw as critical.

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Authors

  • Marta B. Chiappe

  • Cornelia Butler Flora

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