Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The structural invisibility of outsiders: the role of migrant labour in the meat-processing industry

Lever, John ORCID: and Milbourne, Paul ORCID: 2017. The structural invisibility of outsiders: the role of migrant labour in the meat-processing industry. Sociology 51 (2) , pp. 306-322. 10.1177/0038038515616354

[thumbnail of Sociology-2015-Lever-0038038515616354.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (840kB) | Preview


This article examines the role of migrant workers in meat-processing factories in the UK. Drawing on materials from mixed methods research in a number of case study towns across Wales, we explore the structural and spatial processes that position migrant workers as outsiders. While state policy and immigration controls are often presented as a way of protecting migrant workers from work-based exploitation and ensuring jobs for British workers, our research highlights that the situation ‘on the ground’ is more complex. We argue that ‘self-exploitation’ among the migrant workforce is linked to the strategies of employers and the organisation of work, and that hyper-flexible work patterns have reinforced the spatial and social invisibilities of migrant workers in this sector. While this creates problems for migrant workers, we conclude that it is beneficial to supermarkets looking to supply consumers with the regular supply of cheap food to which they have become accustomed.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Uncontrolled Keywords: civilising process, invisibility, liminality, meat processing, migrant workers, outsiders, Wales
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0038-0385
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 April 2016
Date of Acceptance: 1 October 2015
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 20:06

Citation Data

Cited 29 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics