Environment, symbolism, and changing gender roles in Oregon's Santiam Canyon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/sj1394942

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  • In the early 1990s, a cutback in harvestable timber led to economic stress among the families and communities of Oregon's Santiam Canyon. This ethnographic study uses symbolic anthropology and cultural ecology to examine the changing relationships among the timber industry, timber communities, and gender roles. Timber-dependent economies have always struggled to remain economically viable; however, the symbolic ideal of long-term community stability has not been attainable. Timber industry culture, embodied in its system of symbols and values, encourages many men to remain in the industry despite economic downturns. The same cultural forces have traditionally required occupational flexibility in women, and this flexibility has led them to take on much of the responsibility of adapting to economic change. Many women have attempted to diversify within their traditional caretaker roles, while men have sought to remain within the parameters established by the timber culture and the limited timber supply available. Symbolism within the timber industry, and academic research about the timber industry, have masked the importance of women's roles. However, their strength in stabilizing the timber family and community is a vital force, helping communities adapt to rapid change and preserving the culture of the timber community itself.
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