Labor “meats” religion: economic restructuring in the meatpacking industry and religious adherence in the Midwest.
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Palmer-Boyes, Ashley E.
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Labor market trends are often examined in light of their economic significance. However, little attention has been devoted to the relationship between economic trends and their potential impact on religion. Focusing on the consequences of economic restructuring, I argue that labor market variables have consequences for rates of religious adherence. Specifically, I examine an industry which well exemplifies the consequences of restructuring in the Midwestern United States, the meat processing industry. As a result of restructuring, many processors have relocated to rural communities in the Midwest, which lack a sufficient native labor supply to meet the employment needs of the packing plants, which have characteristically high rate of turnover. Consequently, packing plants have recruited and rely heavily on Hispanic immigrant labor to sustain operations. As Hispanic immigrants migrate to rural Midwestern counties, they bring their religion with them, over time increasing the share of Catholic adherents in their destination communities.
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