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From Stress to Distress: Conceptualizing the British Family Farming Patriarchal Way of Life

Price, Linda and Evans, Nick (2009) From Stress to Distress: Conceptualizing the British Family Farming Patriarchal Way of Life. Journal of Rural Studies, 25 (1). pp. 1-11. ISSN doi:10.1016/j.jrurstud.2008.03.008

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Abstract

‘Rural stress’ and ‘farming stress’ are terms that have become commonly appropriated by British healthbased academic disciplines, the medical profession and social support networks, especially since the gricultural ‘crises’ of B.S.E. and Foot and Mouth disease. Looking beyond the media headlines, it is apparent that the terms in fact are colloquial catch-alls for visible psychological and physiological outcomes shown by individuals. Seldom have the underlying causes and origins of presentable medical outcomes been probed, particularly within the context of the patriarchal and traditionally patrilineal way of life which family forms of farming business activity in Britain encapsulate. Thus, this paper argues that insufficient attention has been paid to the conceptualization of the terms. They have become both over-used and ill-defined in their application to British family farm individuals and their life situations. A conceptual framework is outlined that attempts to shift the stress research agenda into the unilluminated spaces of the family farming ‘way of life’ and focus instead on ‘distress’. Drawing upon theorization from agricultural and feminist geography together with cultural approaches from rural geography, four distinct clusters of distress originate from the thoughts of individuals and the social practices now required to enact patriarchal family farming gender identities. These are explored using case study evidence from ethnographic repeated life history interviews with members of seven farming families in Powys, Mid Wales, an area dominated by family forms of farming business. Future research agendas need to be based firmly on the distressing reality of patriarchal family farming and also be inclusive of those who, having rejected the associated way of life, now lie beyond the farm gate.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Keywords: rural stress, farming, stress, distress, family farming, patriarchy
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Science and the Environment
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Depositing User: Nick Evans
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2009 10:13
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2009 10:13
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/769

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