Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Rural Agricultural Technological and Environmental History

First Advisor

Pamela Riney-Kehrberg


The rise of the corporation is one of the most transformative events in the history of United States, including the agricultural economy. Seeking to understand how these private businesses influence American foodways, my research examines the emergence of agribusiness in the period after 1945. These private entities manipulated the physical and metaphysical landscape of agriculture to sell not just their products, but also to remake rural America in a way that suited their needs. Agribusinesses wanted to make themselves, their products, and their specific vision of production and consumption, indispensable to the agricultural system. They intended to expand their hold on the food and fiber economy and their actions directly reflected this end-goal. They attempted to do this by fundamentally altering the way people, both the public at large and farmers, viewed and understood agriculture. By manipulating conceptions of agriculture, agribusinesses created a new ethos that centralized their place in the political economy of agriculture, celebrated technological determinism and high modernism, modified agricultural values to fit their own perceived ideal, and simplified many rural identities to fit a single idea. This fusion created an inherently contradictory image of agriculture, where the material reality, a capital-intensive and technical system controlled by corporate forces, differed greatly from America’s idyllic perception of farming and farmers. These fluctuating conceptions allowed agribusiness to construct an agricultural system that wholly dependent on large companies for preservation and operational success.


Copyright Owner

Margaret Baker Weber



File Format


File Size

318 pages