Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Social Work Honours


Faculty of Regional Professional Studies

First Advisor

Dr Susan Young


This qualitative study considers the links between the political ideology that led to the deregulation of the dairy industry in July 2000 and the personal lived experiences of dairy farming families at a grass roots level. The post-deregulation experiences of dairy farming families within the South West region of Western are investigated through an engaged critical ethnographic methodology. A critical analysis of the political policies relating to dairy deregulation, is also incorporated within the study's methodological framework. The underlying aims of critical ethnography are emancipation, empowerment and liberation. The central purpose of this research is to give the daily farming families, who participated in this research, a voice. Within the feminist approach to research, this study aims to provide an opportunity for dairy) farmers to acknowledge their experiences, to make the reality of their experiences visible and to "seek shared understandings" of those experiences (Crotty, 1998, p. 177). This study utilises research conversations (Ellis & Bochner, 2000) to gather the stories of dairy farmer participants and 'thick description' (Denzin, 1989) to provide a text which allows the reader to gain an empathetic understanding of the lived experiences of dairy farming families since deregulation. There is an indication from this research that the participating dairy farmers have faced significant hardships as a consequence of the policies that led to the deregulation of the dairy industry. Participating daily farmers have struggled to cope with losses at a number of levels since deregulation, including income, assets, and power within the dairy industry's supply chain. Farmers spoke of experiencing a number of emotional responses to their changed circumstances including: feelings of failure; loss of identity; grief; anger; and a strong sense of injustice. This study suggests that daily farmers face ongoing uncertainty about the future of their industry and the future of their family farms.