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Title:Cultural influences on farm families' responses to difficult life events
Author(s):Lash, Amy Marie
Advisor(s):Hughes, Robert
Department / Program:Human Development and Family Ecology
Discipline:Human Resources and Family Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Family farms
family stress
financial stress
world view
Abstract:Over the past decade, the farm financial crisis and devastating drought conditions have confronted farm families. While researchers have examined some aspects of how farm families are coping with these stressors, little attention has focused on the factors that explain how different families respond to stressful events, particularly the influence of cultural factors as identified by Salamon. This research addressed the following questions: (a) What level of distress is currently experienced by farm families?; (b) What are the differences between men’s and women’s experience of distress?; (c) How do age, education, and off-farm employment influence the experience of distress?; and (d) How do farm goals influenced by a yeoman or entrepreneur world view affect the stress experience? Thirty-nine farm families from across central Illinois, previous participants in the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension program for financially distressed farmers, were involved in this study. In a two-hour interview couples provided information regarding life events during the past three years, current physiological and psychological stress symptoms, yeoman/entrepreneur world view, and farm and family characteristics. The results indicated a wide range of severity of distress was experienced by these families, with the majority scoring near the mean levels. Men and women experienced very similar stress symptoms, including anxiety and paranoid ideation. Younger couples experienced more stressors as well as a more severe reaction to those stressors than older couples. Better educated men and women experienced fewer difficulties with paranoid ideation. Off-farm employment was positively correlated with greater distress. Also, yeoman and entrepreneurial world views had a major impact on the ways in which families perceived and experienced stressful events. Those couples who adhered to the value of utilizing family resources as opposed to resources outside of the family were particularly likely to be adversely affected by stressful farm-related events. Overall, these results demonstrate that many factors influence farm families’ responses to economic and environmental events. Future decisions regarding effective policy and services for farm families in crisis will need to consider the diverse responses and coping strategies of these families.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Amy Marie Lash
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-03-05

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