Documenting working experiences of agricultural workers in California



Published Oct 30, 2023
Alvaro Medel-Herrero

Natalia Deeb-Sossa

Monica Torreiro-Casal

Martha Shumway

Joseph Hovey Rosemary Sokas


Over 800,000 Latina/o agricultural workers are employed in California every year, of whom approximately 400,000 are estimated to be undocumented immigrants. We convened 19 focus groups (FG) between July 2019 and January 2020 in various regions of California to gather information from Latina/o agricultural workers on social stressors. The participants’ narratives focused extensively on working conditions. This paper analyses these narratives and examines working and living conditions, as well as the combined effect of profound deprivations within most significant social domains. Agricultural workers in California characterise their working conditions as little better than slave labour. Systematic abusive practices and exploitation, discrimination, marginalisation, and lack of opportunities were overwhelmingly present in their narratives. Sleep, family, education, economic and health deprivation, as well as housing, food and work insecurity, social discrimination, and institutional racism compound one another to generate a systematic form of oppression that makes social mobility virtually impossible. Efforts to expand and protect labour rights have been inadequate and major improvements are needed to provide basic civil rights.

How to Cite

Medel-Herrero, A., Deeb-Sossa, N., Torreiro-Casal, M., Shumway, M., Hovey, J. and Sokas, R. (2023) “Documenting working experiences of agricultural workers in California”, The International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food. Paris, France, 29(2), pp. 15–34. doi: 10.48416/ijsaf.v29i2.525.
Abstract 170 | PDF Downloads 120



Occupational health and safety, Labor abuse, Agricultural workers, undocumented population, Latino population

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