Praised, prized, yet penalised: a critical examination of low-wage hiring queues in the global strawberry industry

Scott, Sam ORCID: 0000-0002-5951-4749 and Rye, Johan Fredrik (2021) Praised, prized, yet penalised: a critical examination of low-wage hiring queues in the global strawberry industry. Journal of Rural Studies, 88. pp. 473-481. doi:0.1016/j.jrurstud.2021.04.014

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Employers often have preferences with respect to workers based on group-level characteristics including geographical origin, gender, class, race, age, family status, appearance, etc. These ‘hiring queues’ can shape recruitment and promotion decisions and explain why certain characteristics may be more or less common within a workplace and across a sector. Drawing on one rural industry known in particular for low-wage and seasonal employment – the strawberry industry – this paper compares employer hiring queues in the US, Norway and UK. We find variety in the hierarchies that employers construct: US, Norwegian and UK strawberry growers recruit their low-wage workers from different nationalities. However, the underlying basis for these hiring queues appears to be the same across study contexts in that they are predominantly contingent upon geographical variables – mobility, nationality and ethnicity – to identify who are seen by employers as the most attractive low-wage seasonal workers. Migrants from more peripheral economies are consistently preferred above local workers and farmers employ mobility, nationality and ethnicity as short-hand for ‘good’ workers. We find that employers articulate what we refer to as ‘informed stereotypes’ that are connected, albeit selectively, to the political, economic, social and legal context(s) within which labour power is produced, reproduced and activated.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agriculture; Hiring queues; Low-wage labour; Migration; Strawberry cultivation
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture > SB175 Food crops
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Sam Scott
Date Deposited: 25 May 2021 08:37
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:57

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