Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

"No Somos Maquinas" (we Aren't Machines): Emotional Dimensions of Precarious Labour in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program

Document type Thesis
Author Pennell, Elena
Degree Master of Arts, Sociology and Anthropology
Publisher Simon Fraser University; Burnaby, BC
Date 2019
Pages 146 pages


This study concerns the social and emotional dimensions of Mexican migrant workers’ temporary labour migration experience as they relate to precarity and unfreedom within the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP). My principle inquiry centers around understanding migrant workers’ subjective and emotional experiences of being away from home and family. This study makes the case that migration and family separation, as requirements of SAWP employment, are precarious labour conditions that result overwhelmingly in distressing emotional experiences that go unseen in workers’ daily lives. I draw on a deeply qualitative methodological approach and theories of precarity, emotion and practice to explore the ways that SAWP workers navigate their labour migration experience through a series of practices in their daily lives. I conclude by sharing my participants’ recommendations for a more dignified and humanized labour experience and with their insistence that they are not maquinas (machines).