A Thirst for Farming TV

Dubbed an insight into modern farming, This Farming Life is the BBC's latest observation documentary. The series follows farming families in Scotland as they go about their everyday (working) lives. Perhaps the programme can be considered an ethnography, as we become immersed in farming, an 'outsider' culture to most viewers.


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Undoubtedly, part of its appeal is the lack of presenters mediating the 'realness' of lived experience which conjures up a more accurate portrayal than the likes of Countryfile. The focus is on the farmers themselves, giving them a voice and seeking to legitimate farming as an indispensable but unpredictable lifestyle. It's difficult to see the relevance of the 'hillbilly' stereotype anymore, as those involved in farming are shown to be from diverse backgrounds and business mindedness is now vital to the role. Women are also shown to be taking centre stage, or should I say field, contrary to common perception that farmers are men.

The humour and character of the families in the programme make it pleasant viewing, whilst making a start to demystify and popularise what farming is all about. We are drawn in by the emotional labour involved in rearing livestock - balancing care and compassion for the animals but with consideration for their ultimate fate. Showing the highs, the lows and everything in between, we are left in awe of the dedication of an often overlooked domain.

If you're intrigued, you can still catch up on the programme online. Otherwise, watch this space for snippets on the sociology of farming in the months to come! Posts on my social research into farming can be found here.

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