Farmed-out: A case study of differential oppression theory and female child farm labor in the early 20th century

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Rachel K. Bandy
John D. Hewitt
Robert M. Regoli


This paper examines the experiences of rural, female orphans in early 20th century United States. A content analysis was conducted and oral histories collected from which the following themes about rural, female, orphan's lives emerged: non-agency, consummate caretaker, martyrdom, and strength. Regoli and Hewitt's theory of differential oppression was utilized in the analysis. Differential oppression posits that all children are oppressed, that female children are doubly-oppressed based on their status as child and female, and that to adapt to this oppression children employ one or more of four modes of adaptations: passive acceptance of their circumstances, exercise of illegitimate coercive power, manipulation of one's peers, or retaliation. This paper concludes that rural female orphans most commonly utilized the mode of passive acceptance.

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