On the Line: The Working Lives of Latinos and African Americans in the New South Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Ribas, Vanesa
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • This dissertation is an ethnography of a meatpacking plant in North Carolina, where I held a job as a production worker for sixteen months totaling more than 3,500 hours of participant observation between August 2009 and December 2010. I also spent countless hours socializing outside the factory with worker-friends I came to know very well over two years, and conducted twenty-five in-depth interviews with Latina/o and African American workers. In this project, I examine how Latina/o migrants are becoming incorporated in the New South. In particular, I draw attention to how groups develop a sense of their group position in a complex map of hierarchical relations through boundary processes that are structured in key domains, in this case, the workplace. In addition to preconditioning factors such as ethnoracial panoramas in origin countries, the racial/ethnic composition of labor and the authority structure, variation in labor discipline regimes, and social perceptions about the nature of particular kinds of work and the qualities of particular types of workers are all important dimensions that account for how Latinos carve out their place in the New American South. In marked contrast to the fears of some scholars and pundits, and against the conclusions put forth in recent research on the topic of intergroup relations in the U.S. South, African American workers do not talk or behave as if they are especially threatened by economic, political, or cultural competition from Latinos/migrants, and this finding holds regardless of whether African Americans are the majority or minority in a specific department. On the other hand, Latina/os deploy an elaborate array of racialized action that is substantially inflected negatively towards African Americans, that reflects and reinforces ethnoracial boundaries between Latinos and African Americans, represents definitively Latinos' determination to achieve incorporation as nonblacks, and may bolster the hegemony of whiteness in the emerging order.
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  • In Copyright
  • Hagan, Jacqueline
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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