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Economic Decline, Gender, and Labor Flexibility in Family-Based Enterprises: Midwestern Farming in the 1980s

Linda Lobao and Katherine Meyer
Social Forces
Vol. 74, No. 2 (Dec., 1995), pp. 575-608
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580493
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580493
Page Count: 34
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Economic Decline, Gender, and Labor Flexibility in Family-Based Enterprises: Midwestern Farming in the 1980s
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Abstract

During economic downturns, traditional gender allocations of labor have been considered to vary more than in prosperous times. While most studies have examined the division of labor in the household or in paid employment, we examined it where both intersect, in family-owned and family-operated enterprises in the farm sector of the 1980s. This context, combining crisis conditions and the agency of economic actors, should be related to greater flexibility in labor allocations, leading to the feminization of farming. However, a contrasting perspective argues for rigidity of gender roles in farming. We use data from a twelve-state midwestern sample and a more detailed Ohio study. The results failed to support the flexibility thesis. The rigidity of production roles was further translated into different factors related to women's and men's stress.

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