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Technology and restructuring the social field of dairy farming: hybrid capitals, 'stockmanship' and Automatic Milking Systems

By D. Butler, L. Holloway

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Abstract

Using Automatic Milking Systems (AMS) as an example we use the work of Bourdieu to illustrate how technology can be seen as restructuring dairy farming practices, what it is to be a dairy farmer, and the wider field of dairy farming. Approaching technology in this way and drawing upon the 'thinking tools' of Pierre Bourdieu, namely field, capital and habitus, the article critically examines the relevance of Bourdieu's thought to the study of technology. We expand on Bourdieu's types of capital to define what we have called 'hybrid' capital involving human-cow-technology collectives. The concept expresses how new technology can shift power relations within the dairy field, affecting human-animal relations and changing the stock person' habitus. Hybrid capital is produced through a co-investment of stock-keepers, cows and technologies, and can become economically and culturally valuable within a rapidly restructuring dairying field when invested in making dairy farming more efficient changing farmers' social status and work-life balance. The article shows how AMS and this emergent hybrid capital is associated with new but contested definitions of what counts as 'good' dairy farming practice, and with the emergence of new modes of dairy farmer habitus, within a wider dairy farming field.

Publication Title Sociologia Ruralis
Volume 56
Issue 4
Pages 513-530
ISBN/ISSN 0038-0199
DOI 10.1111/soru.12103
Language English
Author Address Department of Geography, Environment and Earth Science, University of Hull, Hull, UK.Deborah.butler@hull.ac.uk l.holloway@hull.ac.uk
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Tags
  1. Agriculture
  2. Animals
  3. Bovidae
  4. Business
  5. Cattle
  6. Dairy animals
  7. Finance
  8. Mammals
  9. Psychiatry and psychology
  10. Ruminants
  11. rural areas
  12. rural sociology
  13. sociability
  14. Social psychology and social anthropology
  15. sociology
  16. Status
  17. ungulates
  18. vertebrates