Securing the Future: 'Survival Strategies' amongst Somerset Dairy Farmers

Pile, Steve (1991). Securing the Future: 'Survival Strategies' amongst Somerset Dairy Farmers. Sociology, 25(2) pp. 255–274.



This paper examines the way in which farmers use survival strategies to ensure the reproduction of the family farm. These survival strategies develop from farmers' individual motivations and their attitudes towards social processes - the way they read history. However, farmers are constrained by their structural relationships. I argue that what is important is the way farmers understand their structural relationships and the meaning they give to them. This is so especially in the case of family farming, where there is an intersection between family-centred motivations and vocation-centred motivations. Initially I explore these issues by introducing the theoretical literature which attempts to understand the structural relationships in which farmers live and act. Then I describe farmers' family-centred and vocational-centred motivations (or privatisms) and the way in which they understand social processes. These form the foundation for farmers' survival philosophy and practice. I conclude by arguing that farmers are (unintentionally) reproducing the structural relationships that are threatening the survival of the family farm in its present form.

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