Of Time and the Enterprise

North American Family Farm Management in a Context of Resource Marginality


John W. Bennett

Of Time and the Enterprise was first published in 1982.

Of Time and the Enterprise is the result of 12 years’ research in the Canadian sector of the northern Great Plains -- a 7,000-square-mile region that was one of the last areas in North America to be populated by agricultural settlers. This late settlement permitted a reconstruction of the area’s history and economic and social development unparalleled in the literature.

This book has several dimensions. It is, first, a meticulous study of the North American family farm. Bennett considers such aspects of the family farm as the ways that family members relate to one another and how the various members, especially the wife, participate in management of the enterprise. The book is also a study of agricultural management as an adaptive process. Farm operators must juggle the demands of their families, communities, and the national market in determining the conduct of the business. Finally, the book is a study of the development process on a recent frontier and thus has many implications for agricultural and community development in the Third World.

As the first detailed study of entrepreneurial agriculture in North America, Of Time and the Enterprise combines quantitative and qualitative analysis and looks at the family farm as a form of social behavior, not merely as a form of economic performance. Bennett presents a new interpretation of decision-making, resource allocation, and the influence of family, community, and cultural traditions which he argues must be seen as part of a larger social system.

John W. Bennett was professor of anthropology at Washington University, a program associate at the Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a visiting professor at the Office of Arid Land Studies and the department of anthropology, University of Arizona, Tucson. He is the author of many books and articles in agricultural, ecological, and cultural anthropology, and was formerly president of the American Ethnological Society and the Society for Applied Anthropology.

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