Society and Identity
As the largest driver of global environmental change and the most affected by these changes, agriculture is key to realizing the twin goals of securing the basic human need for food and living within the planetary boundaries of biophysical processes. Hence the growing consensus recognizing a global need for ‘a rapid and significant shift from conventional monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production towards mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems’ that improve conditions for small-scale farmers. The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems calls for a ‘paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems’, in order to transition towards sustainable agriculture.
Farmers, however, if recognized, suffer from a bad reputation in most industrial and post-industrial cultures. Moreover, women farmers, although paramount in food production, are discussed even less. Studies on women working on farms in China mostly contemplate whether a feminization of agriculture takes place or not and try to define the reasons for the growing gender inequality in income and land possession. Women working on farms in Sweden are mostly discussed in historical terms. As part of a larger project about small-scale niche farming in China and Sweden, this paper presents the findings from a discourse analysis about women farmers in academia and media in both countries. The aim is to gain a clearer idea about which image media consumers and academics are forming about women farmers with which consequences.