Graduation Date

Summer 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Applied Anthropology

Committee Chair Name

Gordon Ulmer

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Mary Scoggin

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Agriculture, Young farmers, United States, Bourdieu, Distinction, Habitus, Socialization, Colorado, Agricultural aspirations, Young ranchers, Social reproduction

Subject Categories



The proportion of young farmers and ranchers (ages 18-35 years old) within the agricultural workforce has been declining, raising concerns about the sustainability of the food supply. To gather more tools for solving this problem, this thesis research seeks to understand why young people want to work in agriculture by studying how they develop aspirations for an agricultural career. This thesis employed both survey and interview processes to gather data on how participants think about the field of agriculture in the context of both the challenges and opportunities for entry. Participants were asked how wide range of factors contributed to their aspirations for working in agriculture including developmental experiences, social support, economic considerations and perceived personality traits. The topics explored in this study were selected to investigate the socialization processes behind how young people build value and distinction into an agricultural occupation. This research found many socialization processes at work but that most importantly, individuals need to be exposed to agriculture in a career context. Individuals require socialization to agricultural career options and their attainability in order for them to consider such a career for themselves. Additionally, the study concluded that the perceived lifestyle of agriculture to the individual was an important draw toward an agricultural career. This indicates a profound value is placed in the agricultural lifestyle for many young people- a value that exists outside of strictly economic considerations. Furthermore, the perceived lifestyle of agriculture appears to be an important part of both individuals’ habitus in the study as well as the shared habitus of young agriculturalists as a group. While this study concluded that a variety of socialization and value-building processes take place for individuals who aspire for a career in agriculture, future work should examine the degree and type of agricultural socialization that is most useful to developing a sustainable interest in agricultural careers amongst young people in a larger sample size.

Citation Style




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.