Down Country Lanes, Behind Abandoned Houses

Down Country Lanes, Behind Abandoned Houses

Indexed in: Book Citation Index, Social Sciences & Humanities.

Based on six years of extended ethnography in multiple agricultural areas of the Eastern United States, Down Country Lanes, Behind Abandoned Houses is a monograph which explores the lives of migrant ...
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Moving About

Pp. 135-169 (35)

Keith V. Bletzer

Abstract

This chapter explores disproportionate mobility, given the precarious conditions of agrarian society, which requires workers willing to travel, perform physical labor, and forego advanced training that inhibits potential advancement. Most workers learn the basic skills for routine tasks; a few become crew chiefs who recruitmanage- supervisor farm labor, and/or own vehicles for transporting and/or property for housing workers. Very few ever own a farm. Against this backdrop, individual farm workers experience physically demanding labor that can lead to self-medication and risk-taking with drug and alcohol use, and accessing sex workers in the absence of lifelong companions. The chapter describes socio-economic mobility based on “settlingin”, “settling-out”, and “migratory farm labor”, and explores several places that became icons for farm labor in public memory and popular literature. Six cases illustrate settling-in and settling-out. Three individuals remained in the same rural county where they were raised (Sibel and Len Moise in Lower South, Propel in Middle South), one returned to his childhood home after military service (Morse in Middle South), one lived in several areas before he brought his wife and three children from another country and made a home for them in the eastern United States (Polo in Middle South), and one case of father-son farm ownership in the Midwest.

Keywords:

Harvesting, migratory worker, non-continuous labor, people of mobility, perishable crops, receiving area, residential stability, seasonal employment, seasonal worker, sending area, settling-in, settling-out, short hire, shuttle migrant, social mobility, summer-demand, undocumented worker, winterdemand, worksite safety, year-round farmhand.

Affiliation:

School of Human Evolution and Social Change Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ (USA)