About the content
Led by some of the world’s leading authorities in the field, this course provides an introduction to the role of forced and precarious labor in the global economy. Building upon content from the widely acclaimed online platform ‘Beyond Trafficking and Slavery,’ it explores how vulnerable workers – whose conditions are frequently compared to slavery – routinely endure precarious pay and conditions in order to generate goods and services further up the economic chain.
The course will explore how various kinds of exploitation have been classified – as modern slavery, human trafficking, or forced labor – and consider some of the effects of using the language of slavery to describe the abuses that are happening today.
The primary focus of the course will be migrants and workers. Students will learn how patterns of exploitation are linked to economic and political interests. They will be invited to consider the strengths and limitations of different models of intervention and protection.
Drawing upon examples from across the world, the course will specifically focus on labor in three major categories of work: supply chain work, migrant work, and sex work. Students will be asked to consider how these categories' connections to global economic and political forces create patterns of vulnerable, precarious, and forced labor. The course will also consider the limitations of popular approaches focusing upon the politics of rescue, and instead consider alternatives based upon models of worker rights, collective organizing, and decent work.
All migrants deserve protection as migrants. All workers deserve protection as workers. Modern slavery and human trafficking campaigns selectively focus upon a small minority of vulnerable migrants, and a small minority of precarious workers. These cases are the tip of the iceberg.
This course should appeal to anyone interested in both better understanding and effectively challenging global patterns of exploitation, vulnerability, and abuse.
- How forced and precarious labor feature in different sectors of the global economy, such as supply chains and migrant labor
- How and why labor exploitation has been classified using different categories, such as slavery, trafficking, and forced labor, and what effects these classifications have for understanding key issues
- How political activists have organized in order to combat specific abuses; and what the costs, benefits, and challenges of different strategies look like
- How governments, corporations, and civil society organizations have attempted to combat specific abuses, and what types effects these efforts have had to date
Week Two: Global Supply Chains and Labour Exploitation
Week Three: Combating Labour Exploitation in Global Supply Chains
Week Four: Migrant Labour and the Global Economy: Outsourcing exploitation
Week Five: Legal Rights and Workplace Protections for Migrant Workers
Week Six: Commercial Sex and the Global Economy
Week Seven: Commercial Sex and Decent Work: Rights not Rescue.
Week Eight: Strategies for combating forced and precarious labour: More than bad apples and deviant criminals
Week Nine: Wrap up
Professor in the Department of Political Studies
Prize Fellow in International Development
University of Bath
Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies
Professor of Law and Social Justice
King's College London
Assistant Professor in Sociology and Criminology
University of Nottingham
The University of the Witwatersrand is a South African academic institution located in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, in the historic Witwatersrand region. The university is nicknamed "Wits". It is the largest and most prestigious university in South Africa.
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