Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Susan Roberts


In 1997, Governor Paul Patton of Kentucky asked the state Cabinet of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection to develop administrative regulations for industrial hog farms in the state. The regulatory process has been contentious. From 1997 through 1998, the Cabinet held five public hearings to elicit comments on the proposed regulations. This study is designed to answer two questions. First, how, within parameters of participation established by the Kentucky Cabinet of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, have participants in the debate deployed notions of risk to privilege certain gendered and sexualized farming identities, farming practices, and notions of rurality? Second, how will the spatial arrangements proposed by participants alter social relationships? A theoretical framework that draws from Foucaults work on governmentality and power/knowledge, feminist theories and Latours actor network theory was developed for this analysis which combines discourse analysis with participant observation. The study examines texts produced by the Cabinet and three groups: the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Community Farm Alliance. Texts include transcripts of hearing comments, published histories, newspapers and web sites produced by three studied, law suits related to the debate, and newspaper coverage of the debate. Participant observation was conducted at public hearings and meetings of the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Community Farm Alliance. Results from this project suggest that gender and sexualization play very important roles in establishing hierarchies between organized groups and government agencies. Results also indicate that the constructions of farmers, farming and rurality produced by hierarchical relationships are largely dependent on distinct spatial arrangements which have very real effects on human-human, human-environment and human-animal relationships.



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