Women in Farming Families in the Darling Downs and South West Queensland: Navigating Discourses Towards Wellbeing, Resilience and Empowerment

PhD Thesis


McInnerney, Marlyn. 2022. Women in Farming Families in the Darling Downs and South West Queensland: Navigating Discourses Towards Wellbeing, Resilience and Empowerment. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/yy217
Title

Women in Farming Families in the Darling Downs and South West Queensland: Navigating Discourses Towards Wellbeing, Resilience and Empowerment

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorsMcInnerney, Marlyn
Supervisor
1. FirstProf Lara Lamb
3. ThirdJim Cavaye
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages333
Year2022
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/yy217
Abstract

This research investigated how the discourses that frame women in farm families in central Darling Downs and South West Queensland, Australia, enable and constrain their wellbeing, resilience, and empowerment. The study also addressed calls in the literature for more research into the culture and dynamics of farm families. Through the process of in-depth interviewing and the application of a post-structuralist perspective to construct knowledge, this study uncovered new insights for women entering the discursive cultures of family farms, how love of the land becomes more motivational for them than is widely acknowledged, and how they employ resilience and empowerment strategies to attain their wellbeing goals.

The data analysis revealed three dominant discourses that framed the lives of women in this study: agrarianism; masculine hegemony; and neoliberal farming-as-a-business. While agrarianism generated aspirational wellbeing goals, the conservative traditional masculine hegemonic discourse often constructed obstacles for the women to navigate. Nevertheless, this same discursive reality augmented the agrarian ideal of family farming passed from generation to generation. Hence, although this masculine hegemony discourse might contribute to preventing women from achieving full participation in family farming, it simultaneously increases their belief that the family farm is the highest priority, to be worked for and protected. The discourse of farming-as-a-business has had adverse consequences for the family farming sector and their communities, but simultaneously provided women with empowerment opportunities within their farm businesses.

This study concluded that women in farming families should be acknowledged and respected for their contributions, for their innovative and wholistic ideas and for their strategic resilience and empowerment abilities. They are a key resource for the future of the agricultural sector in terms of economic viability, sustainable land management and the vitality of rural communities, in the face of current challenges such as climate change, and unknown future adversities and threats to the rural sector.

Keywordswomen, discourses, resilience, empowerment, farm family dynamics
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020440699. Human geography not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

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Byline AffiliationsRural Economies Centre of Excellence (Research)
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Related outputs

Resilience for women on the land: how rural discourses enable or constrain their well-being, empowerment and resilience
McInnerney, Marlyn. 2021. "Resilience for women on the land: how rural discourses enable or constrain their well-being, empowerment and resilience." 14th Rural Women's Studies Association Triennial Conference (RWSA 2021). Ontario, Canada 11 - 15 May 2021