1How are gender roles constructed and reinforced through crofting on the Western Isles?Abstract
This project focuses on the construction of gender roles in relation to crofting and the division of labour.Although life on the Western Isles has changed, the involvement of women in crofting is still viewed as lessimportant than that of men. Men continue to dominate society on the islands, and crofting practices often help toreinforce gender stereotypes. The link between women and crofting is particularly interesting because it fits into
the wider framework of women’s role in agriculture in general. This project draws on literature recognizing theimportance of women’s work on and off the farm, trying to ad
dress the imbalance in perceptions of the value of different kinds of work. Crofting is central in articulating masculine identity and croft work is often gendered.Now that women have jobs off the croft, the question is whether that has altered gender divisions of labour.Primary research was conducted over a ten day period in the Western Isles, mainly in the form of semi-structured interviews with people involved in crofting. This research discovered signs that Island society ischanging in terms of expectations and practices, as demonstrated by the women that work crofts alone and theshift towards other kinds of employment. Stereotypical gender roles have been blurred somewhat, aided by theinflux of incomers. However, it is also clear that a form of patriarchy is still present in most communities. Inmany cases it is still the men that do the manual outdoor labour on the croft and it is normal for the oldest son toinherit the croft. Studies suggesting that women who marry into crofting are viewed as being less involved withagricultural work than their husbands have been corroborated by this research. It is not that their actualinvolvement is less, but their work is undervalued by themselves and others. This research has also confirmedwhat previous stu
dies have argued in terms of women’s off
although it can be empowering, it canalso cause tension in the household as men lose their traditional status as earner and provider. Crofting appearsto be central to ideas about heritage and identity, which may be part of the reason that the construction andreinforcement of gender roles has remained fairly patriarchal. Society on the Western Isles is becoming moreequal, but crofting remains an important practice through which gender roles are constructed, albeit in a slightlydifferent way than in the past. In most cases women are still placed on the sidelines of crofting, rather than beingallowed to involve themselves fully and have their work acknowledged. This project points to the need forfurther research into how gender roles are constructed through the practice of crofting, and the effect of changesin policy in particular.
In this project I look at how gender roles are constructed in relation to crofting and thedivision of labour. I argue that although life on the Western Isles has changed since croftingbegan, the involvement of women is still viewed as less important than that of men. Mencontinue to dominate society on the islands, and crofting practices often help to reinforcegender stereotypes. The link between women and crofting is particularly interesting becauseit fits into the
wider framework of women’s role in agriculture in general.
In this project Idraw on literature about
recognising the importance of women’s work on and off th
e farm,trying to address the imbalance in perceptions of the importance of different kinds of work