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Title: Working with flowers : an analysis of social, cultural and ethical relations in Colombia and the UK
Author: Madrid Berroterán, Gilma
ISNI:       0000 0001 3616 227X
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2003
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Cut flower production in Colombia has grown dramatically over the past forty years; meanwhile in the last decade consumption in the UK has almost doubled. Gender plays a central role in the industry since women provide the main labour force for production and are the main buyers and recipients of cut flowers. Conditions in the sector are characterised by widespread violations of labour rights and there is considerable academic and activist research in this area. However, the emphasis is on material factors with little attention paid to a cultural analysis of production. Moreover, analyses of production tend to ignore aspects of consumption in the North. Cut flowers have a double life, as commodities and as gifts. They are material things that are shaped, made, cultivated and are replete with meanings; they are 'cultural' in the full sense of the word. This idea is central to the thesis, which combines a cultural and material analysis of interview material and secondary material gathered in Colombia and the UK. I examine the social relations of cut flower production and consumption and the prospects for cut flower campaigns to secure better living standards and working conditions for Colombian workers. The research shows that little is known among ethical consumers in the UK about the characteristics of cut flower production. I argue that the positive meanings ascribed to flowers as gifts (love, sympathy etc. ) obscure the processes under which the flowers are produced. In production, I show that actors have differing understandings of the cycles organising the labour process, depending on their position in the production hierarchy. Discourses around the 'backwardness' of workers are used by owners and managers to exclude workers from decisionmaking. These discourses are also used to co-opt aspects of the ethical trade language to implement a 'home-grown' programme, Florverde, one that I argue serves the interests of cut flower entrepreneurs and not of labour. The thesis concludes by considering the prospects for ethical cut flowers from Colombia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: SB Plant culture