Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Sherry Cable

Committee Members

Michelle Brown, Lois Presser


The 20th century was a time of substantial change in American farming communities. Researchers have documented the environmental and community impacts of corporate-controlled food crop production and corporate-controlled beef and pork production and processing. Far less research focuses on either corporate-controlled poultry production or processing. This project aims at those gaps in the literature with an exploratory case study of the former family farming community of Morristown, Tennessee.After analyzing literature on the characteristics that most distinguish family farming communities from corporate farming communities, I drew insights from the literature on sense of place and deployed the multisensory ethnography method. In this research strategy, not commonly used by sociologists, I used myself as a research instrument to collect and record my sensory experiences as I temporarily lived in Morristown. The method allowed me to investigate the sensory, emotional, and intellectual experiences of inhabiting a community that hosts two chicken processing facilities which shape individual quality of life. My research question is: how does sensory information affect quality of life in a community that hosts two corporate chicken processing plants?For the analysis, I composed a poem that expresses my gestalt impression of quality of life, based on sensory information. I then developed personal narratives about my sensory experiences. I found that the sensory information I collected in Morristown influenced my everyday life and lived experiences. I concluded that the operations of chicken slaughterhouses and processing facilities negatively shaped three aspects of my quality of life: spatial arrangements, health and environmental issues, and the social fabric of the community.

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