Pennies Per Pound: How the Agricultural Sector Keeps Food Cheap and Farmworkers Exploited
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This paper applies Johan Galtung's concept of structural violence to the exploitative system, largely consisting of governmental programs and agribusiness corporations, that abuses migrant farmworkers in the United States. The ideas of critical theorists, Horkheimer and Adorno, are used in this paper to address the negative influence that capitalism has had in allowing such violent social structures to perpetuate. In their book, The Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno explain how the divisions of labor in a capitalist society have led to a distancing of those in power from the people that work under them. This distancing leads to an estrangement from the reality of the everyday work of the laborers that makes the invention of preferred realities a simple process. Agribusiness implements this strategy of myth disguised as Enlightenment in order to keep migrant farmworkers marginalized and exploited. I argue that agribusiness plays a central role in spreading myths about the agricultural system that have since become regarded as truths and have resulted in the invisibility of migrant laborers. The history of governmental programs, such as the infamous Bracero and H-2A programs, outlines how the government has also contributed to this absence of migrant farmworkers in public discourse. I make the case that the agricultural system, mainly composed of agribusiness and the government, has led to strong cases of structural violence against agricultural laborers.