First Advisor

Melody Valdini

Term of Graduation

Spring 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public Affairs and Policy


Public Affairs and Policy




Care Remittances, COVID-19 Pandemic, Farmworkers, Informal Political Participation, Information Practices, Transnational Households



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 324 pages)


Information is the building block of democracy. Yet, dominant political theories assume different groups within the political system acquire, process, and use information similarly, even as the golden age of globalization has sparked new forms of cross-border political exchanges. Despite a flourishing literature by interdisciplinary social scientists, gaps remain in our understanding of how transnational information circuits shape political knowledge and democratic judgments of groups in host and home countries, especially among so-called "information poor" agricultural workers who often live in precarious conditions. Using a mixed-methods analysis based on the community-engaged Oregon COVID-19 Farmworker Study (OR COFS) and interviews with farmworkers and civic and political leaders in Oregon, California, and Mexico, this dissertation analyzes how Farmworker Transnational Households (FTHs) in Mexico and the United States (U.S.) use intimate hemispheric information practices as a method of informal political participation. The study, with thematic chapters on pandemic information, food subsistence, and medical hesitancy, argues that their engagement takes the form of daily information bargaining for the provision of resources and services. These efforts help reduce information costs necessary to cope with structural vulnerabilities across political regimes that hinge on an intergenerational information ethic based on trust, commitment, and reciprocity. The study offers a conceptual framework, coined care remittances (CR), of the competing institutional and care resources farmworkers consider when contemplating engaging with the state or kinship networks to meet their well-being needs under status quo conditions of globalization. The study finds that FTHs' 1) perceived quality of state-sanctioned information and 2) equitable and 3) non-exclusionary distribution of resources determine their short-term and durable democratic evaluations. Results imply that misinformation, existing clientelist, and citizenship-based restrictions in pandemic assistance and benefits, respectively, weaken democracy in Mexico and the U.S. A significant contribution of this work is that farmworkers' informational expertise, even when riddled with barriers, helps facilitate expressions of political autonomy and discontent, which must be seriously considered.


©2023 Jennifer Martinez-Medina

In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier

Available for download on Friday, June 06, 2025

Included in

Public Policy Commons