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The kill programme: an ethnographic study of ‘dirty work’ in a slaughterhouse

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>New Technology, Work and Employment
Issue number2
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)95-108
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date21/07/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


It has been argued that ‘dirty work’ is characterised by strong occupational and workgroup cultures. This literature has mainly focused on direct workers, but this article largely attends to indirect ‘dirty’ workers, specifically meat inspectors, through ethnographic research conducted in a UK slaughterhouse.
Four arguments are developed; the first is that ‘dirty workers’ may not all display group cohesiveness; indeed, individualisation may be more evident depending upon the technology used, internationalisation and employment conditions.
Second, there is complexity and diversity within ‘dirty work’ and even single occupations can contain considerable variety, rendering generalisations problematic. Third, we argue that much greater attention needs to be given to the wider contextual issues affecting ‘dirty work’, specifically changing labour markets, itinerant labour, economic conditions and technologies. Finally, we argue that stigmatised work may become more so if it is equated with the low wage economy and/or undercutting conditions of employment through
exploiting migrant labour.