Becoming a Victim of Pesticides : Legal Action and Its Effects on the Mobilisation of Affected Farmworkers
Sociologie du travail
FR : Le Seuil
63 - 80 p.
Law, Pesticides, Health, Victims, Social Movements, Agriculture
This article analyses the effects of legal action on the mobilisation of farmworkers suffering from illnesses they link to the use of pesticides. It draws on a qualitative survey conducted with members of the Phyto-Victims Association, a protest organization comprised of sick farmworkers, their families, and the legal professionals who support them. Using this material, we retrace the paths taken by these farmworkers to obtain recognition for their status as pesticide “victims”. We describe the ambiguous effects of the law on this process at both individual and collective levels. We show how the law helps farmworkers to see their illness as an injury requiring compensation and to consider themselves as “occupational victims”. We also suggest that legal action prevents a full exploration of the responsibilities involved, and may trap farmworkers in a reductive face-off with pesticide producers.