FROM COW BELLES TO WAGNS: FACTORS THAT HAVE INFLUENCED THE CREATION OF WOMEN INITIATED AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATIONS IN THE UNITED STATES

Open Access
Author:
Smith, Lindsay A
Graduate Program:
Rural Sociology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 11, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Kathryn Jo Brasier, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • women agriculture organizations
  • social movement theories
Abstract:
The first women-initiated agriculture organization (WIAO) in the United States appeared in 1938. Since then, more than 65 WIAOs and their affiliates have been created. These organizations have varied in formation, purpose, and actions. However there has been very little research on these social organizations and particularly those formed in the US. This research project is attempting to fill that void by examining the factors which have affected the formation of women-initiated agriculture organizations in the US. WIAOs were identified through a combination of literature searches, prior knowledge and Boolean structured internet searches. A survey of WIAO contacts was used to gather data about formation, goals, and activities of WIAOs. The data is arranged into four epochs, which are based on the women’s movement throughout the history of the US. For each epoch I outline the historical background and key characteristics of the US, agriculture, and women and then situate the WIAOs in this context. This research revealed four types of WIAOs: 1.) commodity/industry groups, 2.) professional/collegiate groups, 3.) political/activist groups, and 4.) women as farmer/networking groups. These organizations are largely shaped by the social, political, and economic opportunities available to women in each epoch. This research aims to add to the research by beginning to tell the story of women-initiated agriculture organizations, and set the stage for further research of these overlooked social phenomena.