Although there are between three and five million farm workers in the United States, little is known about patterns of alcohol consumption among this population. However, the particular demands of farm labor place migrant workers at particular risk. As a temporary, highly mobile, low wage work force who are often physically isolated from population centers, migrant workers are highly susceptible to the myriad psychosocial factors that can contribute to sustained alcohol abuse: isolation, stress, loneliness, and boredom. Additional factors such as separation from loved ones, cultural dislocation, a lack of facility in the English language, undocumented legal status, and over-crowded living conditions also contribute to the propensity of this population to use alcohol. The abuse of alcohol within the context of confined, over-crowded living conditions may also contribute to acts of violence. Furthermore, because of the prevalence of prostitution at migrant camps, alcohol may also impede judgement regarding condom use, thus putting them at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Because the working and living conditions of farm workers place them at particular risk for engaging in abusive drinking, and because the outcomes of those behaviors can have significant consequences on their physical and mental health, there is a critical need for basic ethnographic and survey research on the quantity, frequency, co-factors, and consequences of abusive drinking for migrant and non-migrant farm laborers. This three-year study thus has the following objectives: 1) to measure and compare the relative well-being of migrant and non- migrant farmworkers in the Connecticut River Valley; 2) to compare the relationship between well being and drinking patterns of migrant and non-migrant farm workers 3) to determine the relative influence of moderating variables on worker well-being (labor and housing conditions) and drinking behaviors (belief systems, life experiences with alcohol, social support) 4) to determine the relationship between the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption and problem drinking behaviors 5) to determine the relationship between the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption and behaviors that place this population at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
|Duke, Michael (2011) Ethnicity, well-being, and the organization of labor among shade tobacco workers. Med Anthropol 30:409-24|