Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Martha Copp

Committee Members

Leslie McCallister, Joseph Baker


This study focuses on the identities of family farm operators and the challenges to maintaining viable farm operations in today’s agricultural economy. Employing a grounded qualitative approach, the author conducted 18 in-depth interviews with principal farm operators from Iowa and Tennessee. Using the insights of farmers from geographically different agricultural regions, this study notes how preserving family histories, socialization processes, and farming as a moral career inform operators’ understandings of themselves and the work they do. The analysis also focuses on how family farm operators contend with a globalized agricultural economy and the moral and ethical concerns of managing a farm. Farm operators implement various tactics and framing mechanisms for resolving and, in some cases, circumventing these challenging issues in order to maintain their farms, identities, and family farm legacies.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted