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Households in industrial agriculture

Gregory M Briggs, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This work investigates the historical development of mechanized agriculture within the framework of family farming in Friesland province, the Netherlands. The research follows changing domestic composition in three historic municipalities which have been incorporated into the present day municipality of Franekeradeel. Changes within households are compared to changes in the sources of farm labor and the number of people and farms commercially involved in agriculture. The overall impact of these changes is then weighed with respect to the demographic, as well as the spatial make-up of the rural locality. The objective of the research is to study cultural continuity under conditions of rapidly changing technology. The main inquiry focuses on how rural families have modified productive and consumptive technologies over the last one hundred years to fit local and domestic social conditions. The primary focus is to study how an expansion of agricultural productivity has been effected within the households organizing farming. The secondary focus has been to study the effect expanding productivity has on farming households and local rural society. The analytical framework outlines changing dimensions of property rights by focusing on changes in the social form of labor, which is itself a dynamic property relationship. Other dimensions of historic property relations explored include domestic dynamics, technical change, land tenure patterns, patterns of productive ownership and devolution. Results of the demographic research indicate that since the advent of industrial processing, particularly dairying and crop harvesting, lack of employment and changing expectations for women have led to a higher outmigration of women than men, engendering changes in domestic composition. A diminished number of female headed households and a diminished retention of unmarried adult female, versus male children within the domestic unit are two primary markers. Conclusions arising from the analysis of the social construction of property rights indicate an ongoing diminution of private alienable rights, in favor of increased public/state allocation of property right's content. The construction of rights around the ownership of dairy production values following the establishment of the 1983 European Community quota system provides an example of this.

Subject Area

Cultural anthropology|European history|Agricultural economics|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social structure

Recommended Citation

Briggs, Gregory M, "Households in industrial agriculture" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909152.