Anti-trafficking Chains: Analyzing the Impact of Transparency Legislation in the UK Construction Sector

Tamar Barkay, Jon Davies, Irene Pietropaoli, Hila Shamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A recurring conundrum lies at the heart of current anti-trafficking law and policy. Despite enormous efforts by civil society organizations, corporations, and governments to reduce human trafficking in supply chains, and the introduction of legislation in various countries that requires corporations to take active actions in this field, there is wide agreement that, so far, the desired change has not occurred. This article addresses this puzzle through studying the vibrant anti-trafficking activity in the UK construction sector that emerged following the enactment of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA). Applying socio-legal methods, the article unpacks the structural dynamics that shape the implementation of the MSA in the construction sector. We find that the Act exacerbates the imbalanced power relations between firms and anti-trafficking initiatives, positioning the latter as suppliers of modern slavery risk solutions that are dependent on corporate will and funding. The article demonstrates that anti-trafficking initiatives in the construction sector largely follow a “supply chain logic” that significantly limits their capacities to transform corporate behavior. We develop the notion of “anti-trafficking chains” to describe the dynamics of anti-trafficking activities in supply chains and to problematize the entanglement of anti-trafficking actors in supply chain power structure and logic.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLaw and Social Inquiry
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2024


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