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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Rural Sociology

First Advisor

Donald Arwood


The American farm and the American farmer. Both of these entities have undergone momentous changes throughout the· history of the Republic. American farms have evolved from the small, multi-crop and livestock operations that were so typical of early American agriculture, to the large, mono-cropping enterprises seen more commonly today. The farm family, too, has undergone some startling changes since the beginnings of American agriculture. Gender roles have been modified, expectations of one's spouse have evolved, and even the division of labor within the farm family is different now than it was in years past. Something that has not changed, however, are the innumerable challenges the farm family faces on a daily basis. Worries about the weather, concerns over market prices, and other, almost countless uncertainties are routine for farmers and their families. The choice of whether or not to seek off-farm employment is only one of these onerous concerns. The research question of this dissertation asks: How do perceptions of self affect the farm couples' decision to work off of the farm? In order to answer this question, 304 farmers and their spouses were queried amidst the framework of this study's research objectives. Hypotheses examined within this body of research were tested via bivariate, discriminant, and regression analysis. The decision to work away from the farm was analyzed amid the context of farm size, expansion plans, satisfaction with market prices and market availability, the scope of the individual's network, the individual's degree of identification as a farmer, age, and the percentage of income derived from farming. Of these eight variables, two were shown to be good predictors of off-farm employment for both men and women: percentage of income from the farm, and the size of the farming operation. Of the remaining six variables, identity as a farmer proved to be a good predictor of off-farm employment (for males), whereas the scope of the individual's network proved to be a good predictor of off-farm employment for females. These findings further expand our comprehension of identity (and thus Identity Theory), rural sociology, and even contribute to a further appreciation of gender differences in behavioral choices among rural men and women residing in eastern South Dakota.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Farmers -- South Dakota -- Psychology
Farmers' spouses -- South Dakota -- Psychology
Farmers -- Supplementary employment -- South Dakota
Identity (Psychology)
Sex role




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