[We’re pleased to welcome author Josh A. Hendrix of RTI International, Research Triangle Park. Hendrix recently published an article in the Organization & Environment entitled “American Slaughterhouses and the Need for Speed: An Examination of the Meatpacking-Methamphetamine Hypothesis,” co-authored by Cindy Brooks Dollar of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. From Hendrix:]
What inspired you to be interested in this topic? A few years ago, I was teaching an undergraduate Sociology of Social Deviance course. In class one day, we were reflecting on an article we had just read and were bringing up examples of how deviant behavior can be influenced by structural or cultural factors that go beyond individual psychopathology. I brought up an example I had recently come across in Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation; specifically, the notion that methamphetamine use can be a reaction to social pressures for productivity within competitive Western societies. Although the idea is provocative and made for a good example, I realized that there was no empirical research that could show whether there is in fact a relationship between animal slaughter and methamphetamine use in the United States. I recruited one of my colleagues who I knew had the right skill set for this type of project: an open, critical, and creative mind, and strong analytical skills, and the project really developed from there.
Were there findings that were surprising to you? We were surprised to find any support for Schlosser’s hypothesis that there is a connection between the meatpacking industry and methamphetamine use, simply because the idea is so radical and far out there. At the same time, it was surprising that the relationship did not hold when breaking down our analysis by different types of meat. This suggested to us that the relationship is more complex than we had first imagined but also made us realize that more research on this topic using different types of methods was necessary.
How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice? We would love to see additional work on this topic, and especially a project that uses qualitative methods to elaborate on why methamphetamine may be used by slaughterhouse workers. Alternatively, a study that examines methamphetamine usage prior to, and following the construction or relocation of slaughterhouses would be interesting and informative.
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