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Putting the Barn Before the HouseWomen and Family Farming in Early Twentieth-Century New York$
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Grey Osterud

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450280

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450280.001.0001

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Negotiating Working Relationships

Negotiating Working Relationships

(p.169) 8 Negotiating Working Relationships
Putting the Barn Before the House

Grey Osterud

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how the rural women of the Nanticoke Valley negotiated working relationships as they worked on family farms. What made the most difference in the tenor of rural women's life stories was the degree of agency they felt able to exercise over the major decisions that shaped their lives. Like most farm people, these women expected to have to contend with many circumstances over which they had no control. Most of the women who remained in or moved to the countryside sought mutuality rather than autonomy; they deliberately sustained relationships with others that were characterized by flexibility and reciprocity. They were aware of the importance of their own labor and commitment to the family farm in counteracting the gender divisions and hierarchies of power that seemed to prevail outside their rural culture. This chapter also considers how native-born and immigrant farm families combined farming and wage-earning during the interwar period and especially how farming enabled women to mix income-producing labor with childcare.

Keywords:   rural women, Nanticoke Valley, family farms, agency, farm families, farming, wage-earning, income-producing labor, childcare, mutuality

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