Women and the reproduction of family farms: Change and continuity in the region of Thessaly, Greece
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AbstractThe paper examines the role that women play in the reproduction of family farms in a region of Greece which has undergone extensive modernization. Based on the results of a structured survey and open-ended interviews carried out in 1985–1986 in Thessaly, the paper documents the extent and type of women's participation in four spheres of activity: market production, off-farm wage labour, production for home consumption and the ‘sphere of reproduction’ according to the feminist definition. It is maintained that women's participation in a multitude of roles is crucial for the survival of marginal family farms in particular, and attention is also paid to the differentiation which is evident across the various farm strata. The role of women is, however, contradictory to the extent that they often undermine the reproduction of the farm in the long term, even while they are crucial for its survival in the short to medium term. One way to understand this apparent contradiction is to take into account the qualitative aspects of women's work roles and their occupational status, factors which have not changed as rapidly during the process of modernization as other aspects of agricultural production. One could say that the process of agricultural modernization has left rural women in a relatively disadvantaged position with respect to both urban women and rural men. This leads many women to abandon agricultural activity as soon as they have the chance, or else to work hard so that their children may ‘escape’.

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