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Unfreedom and Workers’ Power: Ever-present Possibilities

McGrath, Siobhán; Strauss, Kendra


Kendra Strauss


Kees van der Pijl


Trafficking, forced labour and related phenomena have been documented time and again in recent years by advocacy groups, the media and government agencies. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 20.9 million people in some form of forced labour worldwide. The estimate is broken down regionally and sectorally: 11.7 million of these are thought to be in the Asia and Pacific region; and 18.7 million are believed to be in the private economy, among whom 14.2 million are involved in economic activities not related to sexual exploitation. Debt bondage appears to be the most common mechanism of forced labour (cf. ILO 2005; 2012; Andrees and Belser 2009). The prevalence of labour relations characterized by various forms of unfreedom raises critical questions about how the phenomenon fits into the contemporary economy, and therefore about how to address the issue(s) in ways that advance the interests of all exploited workers.


McGrath, S., & Strauss, K. (2015). Unfreedom and Workers’ Power: Ever-present Possibilities. In K. van der Pijl (Ed.), Handbook of the international political economy of production (299-317). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Online Publication Date Jan 30, 2015
Publication Date Jan 30, 2015
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2016
Publisher Edward Elgar Publishing
Pages 299-317
Series Title Handbooks of research on international political economy
Book Title Handbook of the international political economy of production.
Chapter Number 17
ISBN 9781783470204
Keywords Economics and finance, Political economy, Politics and public policy, Political economy, Social policy and sociology, Labour policy.