Chapter 4: Agricultural labour in the global food system
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In the current context of increased global competitiveness in food products and the power of large-scale supply and distribution systems, rural areas that are closely tied to agriculture have had to adapt to become part of global value chains. One key element of these adjustments has been the organisation and management of labour. The principal transformations undergone by the global agricultural production system over recent decades have mainly depended on the availability of a flexible, cheap and socio-politically vulnerable workforce. This chapter addresses the labour market structures that support intensive production systems within the current phase of agri-food globalisation. The analysis focuses on the main processes involved in the construction of labour markets: proletarianisation processes in the rural world; the diversification of labour categories and recruitment channels; the growing segmentation of the labour force in accordance with class, sex and ethnicity; and the different means of ensuring a more flexible, temporary and precarious workforce.

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