An investigation into racism and inequalities in the meat industry: Slaughterhouses and factory farm work.

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Geog, Politics and Sociology


In the more than 100 years since the publication of Upton Sinclair's novel, The Jungle (1985), it could be argued that little has changed in meat processing. That seminal book exposed the atrocious conditions of slaughterhouse work in early 20th century Chicago. Many of those workers were migrants. Migrants continue to be over-represented in meat processing where they face marginalisation and discrimination as manifest through low pay, poor working conditions and lack of security, to name but a few challenges. This research seeks to examine the way in which migrants are implicated within contemporary agri-food systems that are typically based on a capitalist model of worker exploitation. It will scrutinise the meat industry in the 21st century, examining the degree to which racism exists within slaughterhouses, both institutionally and at an individual level. By engaging with Marxist theories it will explore precarity and inequalities within slaughterhouses. It will consider the role of individuals, companies, government and the agri-food sector more generally. A qualitative approach (semistructured interviews, focus groups, and document analysis) will provide a range of perspectives and lenses to scrutinise the role of migrants, capitalists, government and advocacy groups in the food processing sector. The research will extend existing knowledge by critiquing the intensification of agri-food sector as well as migration research exposing migrant precarity.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000762/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2236256 Studentship ES/P000762/1 30/09/2019 29/06/2023 Jake Pointer