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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Is work on dairy farms still a family affair?

INRA Prod Anim 25(2) 169-180


1 ISARA-Lyon, Laboratoire d’études rurales, 23 rue Jean Baldassini, F-69364 Lyon, France

2 Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Cerlis, 45 rue des Saints-Pères, F-75270 Paris, France


In this article the aspect of couples working together in agriculture was studied. Two complementary approaches were used in the analysis: one based on agricultural census data and one qualitative study of women working on dairy farms in the Segala region (south- west of France). In the first part, a general overview is given of the different types of work groups and changes undergone according to their production orientations. The first characteristic to be taken into account was if the farm is run by a couple (the socalled family farm) or by another kind of organization or partnership. The sector of dairy farming and cattle breeding remains a professional circle where couples are the most frequent working units and where the wife's commitment is especially important. According to surveys, three types of participation within the farm have become apparent: wives who work with their husbands upon marriage, or after gaining experience elsewhere or on their parents' farms. In the first type of participation, there is no clearly defined role of the wive's work on the farm, in the second one, wives work independently by managing farm activity and in the third type wives take full charge of production on the farm. Women with a higher level of education and who have work experience outside of the farm are able to question the division of tasks according to gender and to construct their own work roles within the man-wife partnership. This leads us to consider the new role of individuals, women notably, on farm units.