Salads, sweat and status: migrant workers in UK horticulture

Simpson, Donna (2011) Salads, sweat and status: migrant workers in UK horticulture. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Drawing on workplace ethnography at a farm in the East of England and interviews with
former participants on the UK’s temporary foreign worker programme, the Seasonal
Agricultural Workers Scheme, this thesis contributes to understanding of the everyday
work and living experiences of migrant workers in UK horticulture. In particular, it
assesses the influence of supermarket-driven supply chains and of immigration status on
these experiences. This thus reveals a labour process which is strongly shaped by structural factors, yet workers’ agency is also shown to play an important part.

The analysis is organised around working and living spaces. It first explores the living
spaces of the camp in which migrant workers were required to reside as a result of the
conditions attached to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme. Such conditions, it is
argued, give rise to both social and physical enclosure and thus to employers’ control of
migrant workers. Secondly, the thesis focuses on everyday work spaces, illustrating how
migrants’ work efforts are influenced by two features of production operating in UK food
supply chains: just in time and total quality control. The role of surveillance and technology
are shown to be important in habituating migrants’ bodies and their work efforts.

The analysis of spaces of work also reveals how the piece rate form of payment and
uncertainty over rates of pay are used to gain workers’ consent and intensification of work
effort. Moreover, it contributes to understanding of the bodily effects of that effort. The
thesis further explores leisure and consumption spaces away from the camp. These can be
sites of stigma, racism and exclusion and simultaneously reveal the working of a
transnational social field. The analysis of these spaces provides evidence of how
immigration status and nationality can shape both migrants’ own identities and how others
perceive them.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic theory. Demography
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD1401 Agriculture
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD4801 Labour. Work. Working class
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General) > S560 Farm economics. Farm management. Agricultural mathematics Including production standards, record keeping, farmwork rates, marketing
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2011 09:23
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2015 14:36
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/7601

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