This research explores what it means to be a farmer in today’s world. Agriculture has fed the majority of people throughout history and, by continually becoming more labor-efficient, has provided the ability for an ever-increasing diversification and specialization of labor in nonagricultural industries. Even as societies have become increasingly complex, the role of agriculture as necessary for sustenance has not changed. Farmers in developed countries today have a unique experience as occupying a dual role as both fundamental and vestigial in relation to the rest of their society. This study explores the experiences and identity of wheat farmers in southeastern Washington through autoethnographic immersion as well as interviews done over a two-month period in the summer of 2012. Specifically, life histories and current views on agriculture and society are used to develop an idea of how self-concept is constructed based on various contradictory roles that farmers fill in both micro- and macrosocietal levels. This study joins a host of multidisciplinary rural-studies research that has informed our perspective on agriculture and refines our idea of the farming experience, but it points to a need for more research on the differences, similarities and interactions between rural and urban culture in developed nations.
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