From Family to Domestic and Global Labour? A Decade of Proletarisation of Labour in the Norwegian Horticulture Industry

Johan Fredrik Rye 1 , Marie Holm Slettebak 2  and Hilde Bjørkhaug 3
  • 1 Department of Sociology and Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University Centre, Dragvoll, 7491, Trondheim, Norway
  • 2 Department of Sociology and Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology University Centre, Dragvoll, 7491, Trondheim, Norway
  • 3 Institute for Rural and Regional Research, 7491, Trondheim, Norway


This paper analyses the profound structural transformations that took place in Norway's horticulture industry between 1999 and 2010. The aggregate industrial outputs from the industry remained stable in this period. However, the number of horticulture farms dropped by 40.5% and the remaining farms became accordingly larger. We analyse how this development was related to changing labour strategies on Norwegian farms during this period, in part affected by labour market deregulation following the EU enlargements in 2004 and 2007. The analysis utilises Agricultural Census data covering the full population of horticulture farms in Norway in 1999 (N=5,105) and all farms in the country in 2010 (N=46,624, of which 3036 now were horticulture farms). Results suggest that the enhanced availability of inexpensive and flexible global labour is strongly associated with a stepwise proletarisation of Norwegian horticulture. Family labour is being systematically replaced by wage labour and domestic workers are being replaced by lowwage migrant workers.

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