Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Cliff Brown

Second Advisor

Rebecca Glauber

Third Advisor

Kenneth Johnson


People in the United States who practice the alternative lifestyle of “homesteading” seek to live self-sufficient lives by growing food, building dwellings, and living with resolute autonomy. Great variation exists in the degree of self-sufficiency attained and desired by individuals engaged in homesteading. It was the purpose of this study to illuminate the motivations underlying adopting and engagement in this lifestyle in Maine homesteaders. Through interviews with 10 homesteaders in Maine and participant observation, I documented the narratives and elucidated the motivations of this under researched group. Common themes emerged. Participants expressed concerns about personal health, the environment, and institutions. Additionally, homesteading felt to many like a spiritual practice. In times of stress and uncertainty, to reduce feelings of helplessness, individuals look to control uncertainties. The “do it yourself” mentality and emotional catharsis of working in nature does serve to remediate emotional distress for many individuals engaging in homesteading. Homesteading has increased in recent years and this thesis offers insight into the personal motivations and social causes behind this trend.