Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Department

Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Nancy Neiman Auerbach

Reader 2

Steven Samford

Reader 3

Richard Hazlett

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Jean Larsen

Abstract

I argue that although the abusive conditions experienced by farmworkers have complicated causes, they have persisted and will continue to persist as long as farmworkers are stripped of virtually any political and economic power. The chapters build upon each other logically, beginning with the second chapter, which uses farmworker testimony to establish that a combination of economic and political circumstances have kept farmworkers from protesting not only methyl bromide, but every other dangerous condition they face in the fields. In the third chapter, I argue that despite commonly held assumptions, growers are virtually powerless to change the circumstances of farm workers because competition they face in the strawberry market precludes any single grower from paying their workers more than the going rate. I will conclude by arguing that to begin to improve the working conditions of farm workers, consumers will need to engage with the issue on both political and economic levels. The conclusion builds on the arguments established in the second and third chapters; namely, given that neither growers nor farmworkers will be able to leverage change within the current political and economic context, consumers are the only remaining actors with both the incentives and power to influence both the political and economic arenas. Just as scholarship that focuses on only one set of actors (i.e. only growers or only regulators) will necessarily fail to provide practical solutions because such papers tend to discount the pressures faced by and produced by other actors, so too will change be impossible without consumers who advocate that farmworkers both receive a just share of political voice and fair wages.

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