Smells like money: Mexican employee endurance in a southwest Kansas meatpacking plant

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Show simple item record Ruiz Ruiz, Zaira Nohely 2019-04-17T16:48:06Z 2019-04-17T16:48:06Z 2019-05-01
dc.description.abstract It is no secret to say working in a meatpacking plant can be very difficult. In the words of one employee, “it is not an animal slaughterhouse, but a human one”. National Beef Packing (NBP) opened a branch in Liberal, Kansas in the 1980s. Since then, the plant has recruited immigrant labor from all over the world. Presently in 2019, Mexican immigrants and their U.S. born children and grandchildren—who primarily identify as Mexican—make up the majority of employees at NBP. Many U.S. born self-identifying Mexican employees have parents and grandparents who work, or have worked, at the plant. All three generations claim conditions are terrible and advise people not to work there. Yet, they persist. How do Mexican employees endure work in the plant over time, across generations, and while employees from other parts of the world come and go? To answer my question, I conducted in-depth interviews with 23 of first through third-generation Mexican immigrant employees. I analyzed patterns and variations in their strategies for enduring difficult working conditions, including inter-ethnic competition or solidarity, over time. I found that Liberal’s status as a rural, ethnic enclave provides Mexican employees with a sense of certainty that makes enduring the plant conditions possible, and sometimes desirable. Liberal serves as an ethnic enclave that provides social and economic networks and motivate ethnic retention, sometimes protecting employees from insecurity and discrimination, and sometimes limiting their willingness to seek opportunities beyond Liberal and the plant. I claim endurance strategies are aimed at sustaining membership in this Mexican ethnic enclave, in order to increase the likelihood of higher social mobility for oneself and family. In the process, people—sometimes multiple generations of local families, must tolerate some of the most intolerable working conditions in the country. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Mexican immigrant en_US
dc.subject Meatpacking en_US
dc.subject Liberal, Kansas en_US
dc.subject Rural ethnic enclave en_US
dc.subject National Beef Packing en_US
dc.title Smells like money: Mexican employee endurance in a southwest Kansas meatpacking plant en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Master of Arts en_US
dc.description.level Masters en_US
dc.description.department Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work en_US
dc.description.advisor Alisa Garni en_US 2019 en_US May en_US

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