Understanding the cultural meanings and perceptions of southern Manitoba farm women's stress experiences

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Reinsch, Simone Marie Jeannette
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Stress is a pervasive issue that can potentially affect health and productivity. There is evidence to suggest that farm women are particularly susceptible to the effects of stress. The overall purpose of the study was to arrive at an increased understanding of the underlying cultural knowledge and meaning of Manitoba farm women's stress experiences. Situated in Social Critical Theory, the study's conceptual framework was guided by Socialist Feminist Theory (SFT). Qualitative ethnographic face-to-face interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of eight farm women whose livelihood was affected by Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE). The ethnographic central theme describes the aggregate as women who struggle to balance the sense of self in a patriarchal context, while struggling to survive the micro and macro changing times in agriculture following the BSE outbreak. The central theme is supported by four taxonomies. The study has shown that the root causes of the aggregate's culturally defined stress experience are situated in the socio-economic-political changing times in the agricultural industry at the local, national, and global levels. As such, all levels of government should adopt the Population Health Promotion approach to policy development. Future research includes the exploration of the long-term impacts and implication of crisis situations on farm men and women in various farming operations both provincially and nationally, and exploring the importance of home to farm women's well-being.