Who and what gets recognized in digital agriculture: agriculture 4.0 at the intersectionality of (Dis)Ableism, labor, and recognition justice [Book Review]

Agriculture and Human Values:1-16 (forthcoming)
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Abstract

This paper builds on prior critical scholarship on Agriculture 4.0—an umbrella term to reference the utilization of robotics and automation, AI, remote sensing, big data, and the like in agriculture—especially the literature focusing on issues relating to equity and social sustainability. Critical agrifood scholarship has spent considerable energy interrogating who gets what, how decisions get made, and who counts as a “stakeholder” in the context of decision making, questions relating to distributive justice, procedural justice, and representative justice, respectively. Less attention, however, has been paid in this literature to the subject of recognition justice. Recognition justice asks the question, “Who are subjects of justice?” That query, however, is easily to oversimplify. As subjectivity is neither monolithic nor fixed, implied in these discussions are deeper questions having to do with the characteristics of one’s subjectivity that deserve moral recognition. This act of translation, from justice-in-theory to justice-in-practice, also complicates the evaluation of whether Agriculture 4.0 platforms are just, or not. These recognition justice tensions are explored by leveraging qualitative data collected through forty-two face-to-face interviews with individuals on farms located in the US states of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming who utilize these platforms. The study design intentionally oversampled for persons with disabilities, which highlights another distinguishing characteristic of the paper relative to critical Agriculture 4.0 scholarship. In addition to exposing certain ableist assumptions in these discussions, the sampling technique proved invaluable for interrogating how we think about labor, work, and leisure in agriculture. The paper specifically discusses how Agriculture 4.0, for example, shapes conceptions of what it means to be “able to work,” “willing to work,” “hard working,” etc.

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