How agricultural science trumps rural community in the discourse of selected U.S. history textbooks

Marged Howley, Aimee Howley, Karen Eppley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Using narrative from 6 high school American history textbooks published between 1956 and 2009, this study investigated changes in how textbook authors presented the topics of agricultural science, farming, and community. Although some critical discourse analyses have examined textbooks treatment of different population groups (e.g., African Americans, women) or particular historical trends (e.g., industrialization), few have explored textbooks treatment of rural cultures and occupations. The critical analysis undertaken in this study revealed that there was a decline over time in the salience of the theme, the promise of science and technology for improving agriculture. It also suggested that a decline in explicit rhetoric in support of industrial agriculture accompanied widespread acceptance of this approach, with its emphasis on monoculture and corporate management, trumping an earlier idyll of the small farm, with its emphasis on nurture, family, and community. Interpretation of these findings rests on the distinction between the Jeffersonian and the Hamiltonian ideals for the American nation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-218
Number of pages32
JournalTheory and Research in Social Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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