Abstract This paper is concerned with the role of property ownership and the importance of male patriarchy on family farms. I critique here the role of property and family and its role in State formation. I am interested in local and regional sites where I argue that identity and conduct was determined. This approach indicates how the cultural values of farming were reflected in the culture of the State through its administrative apparatuses of power. Through an explanation of the role of ‘family’ and ‘property’, I show how different discourse and techniques involved with rural life received endorsement and support, within legal and non-legal forms of power. I outline the direction my argument will take. Firstly, I show the importance of the family in State policy and how the family was imbedded in ideas of property. Secondly, I show the role of economics as a form of governance. Economics, I argue formed a discipline of productivity through which the family governed the individual and the State governed the family. Thirdly, I show how property, the family and economics were linked within other administrative agencies involved in the ‘governmentalisation of society’.