Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Alex Stepick

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Liliana Goldin

Third Advisor's Name

Bruce Nissen

Fourth Advisor's Name

Guillermo Grenier


ornamental, agriculture, Florida, neoliberalism, globalization, labor, migration, wage-theft, marginalization, regulation

Date of Defense



Ornamental plant production in the State of Florida is an anomaly with respect to current theories of globalization and particularly their explanation of the employment of low-wage, immigrant labor. Those theories dictate that unskilled jobs that do not need to be performed within highly developed countries are outsourced to where labor is cheaper and more flexible. However, the State of Florida remains an important site of ornamental plant production in the US amidst a global economic environment of outsourcing and transnational corporate expansion. This dissertation relies on 50 semi-structured interviews with insiders of the Florida plant nursery industry, focus groups, and participant observation to explain how US trade, labor, and migration policy-making at local levels are not removed from larger global processes taking place in the world since the 1970s. In Florida, elite market players of the plant nursery industry have been able to resist global trends in free trade, operating instead in a protected market. They have done this by appealing to scientific justifications and through arbitrary implementations of neoliberal ideology that keeps small and middle range business alive, while maintaining a seemingly endless supply of marginalized and exploited low-wage, immigrant workers.





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