Regional Inventory and Assessment Project (QOL)
Under what circumstances is quality of life highest for members of farm households? What can be done to increase quality of life of farm households within rural communities? Do different members of the household have different things contributing to their quality of life?
The last phase of this project analyzes farm women’s roles within the swine production commodity system of the Upper Midwest, with particular focus on:
What are women’s relationships to swine production?
How does global economic restructuring affect women involved in swine production?
How does the vertical integration and concentration of agriculture impact the work strategies of women involved in swine production?
How does swine production shape identity construction of women?
What forms of political activism are employed by women in swine production?
Focus groups, interviews, participant observation, participatory techniques (mind mapping, activity charts, etc.) and surveys are used to gather information on farming systems and quality of life of household members, with focus on the adults in the household. Multivariate statistical analysis is used to analyze the quantitative data.
In the final phase, an advisory/planning council will be formed from key women in the study counties who are currently involved in swine production. This advisory council will be asked to identify other women involved in swine production to serve as focus group and interview participants as well as to design dissemination of study results.
Quality of life of members of farm households is related to: 1) the degree to which the individual feels they have choices in how they do their work (autonomy) and 2) the degree to which the individual feels that they are respected by those in the household and communities in which they live and act.
Definitions of sustainable agriculture also differ by gender. Changing agricultural practices toward working with nature instead of controlling it is more threatening to farm men’s gender identity than it is to farm women’s gender identity. For men and women, groups of like-minded individuals, particularly in same-sex communities of interest, aid the transition to an agriculture that takes into account social, ecosystem, as well as economic, impacts.
Understanding the importance of community and social capital around quality of life and sustainable agriculture has the potential of forming new farm community entrepreneurial partnerships that support the multiple functions of farming for rural communities.