Sociology ETDs

Publication Date

2-1-2016

Abstract

Little work has been done exploring the sociological experiences of individuals working in organic agriculture, a type of farming primarily characterized by rigorous restrictions on chemical inputs. Unlike the massive corporate farms that have become commonplace in much of the United States, farms in North Central New Mexico tend to be small and diverse, with a political focus on community-building. In this study, thirty in-depth interviews of ten producers/owners and twenty farmworkers on organic farms in the region were conducted over the course of the 2014 growing season. I use the interview data to examine how small-scale farm work and ties to the land translate into a community-oriented political identity. In tapping into the lived experiences of farmers, I explore the principles of civic agriculture directly and demonstrate how these concepts translate for individuals embedded in the practice. Building on the definition of agrarian identity and drawing on theories of civic agriculture and social capital, I argue the farming practices in this region embody principles of social integration and cohesion despite the fact that individual farmers are not necessarily organizing into a singular movement. I also take into account the orientation of local organizations toward not only promoting sustainable, localized agriculture, but also toward generating community participation in farming is central to North Central New Mexico's narrative of civic agriculture. The results of the research imply that fusing a place-based, political identity with civic agricultural practices yields benefits for both the individual and the community.

Degree Name

Sociology

Level of Degree

Masters

Department Name

Sociology

First Advisor

Gonzales, Felipe

First Committee Member (Chair)

Goodkind, Jessica

Second Committee Member

Soto Mas, Francisco

Project Sponsors

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Southwest Center for Agricultural Health, Injury Prevention and Education

Keywords

agriculture, organic farming, New Mexico, civic agriculture, community well-being, place and space, identity, social ties, agricultural organizations, social capital

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

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