Forced and Unfree Labour: An analysis

Jamie Morgan, Wendy Kay Olsen

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In 2011, the UN International LabourOrganization (ILO) produced a newestimate of 20.9 million victims of forced labour. Forced labour continues to be found in almost all countries and all economic sectors. This persistence and development of forced labour raises various issues that we explore in this paper. It is free labour that is central to the Marxist account of capitalism, both in terms of its economic and ideological dynamics. There is, therefore, a potential tension for Marxist theory in terms of the persistence and diversification of forced labour, and we explore this, drawing also on the “realist� concepts of agency and structure. For forced labour to flourish, as clearly it is, there must also be a combination of motive and opportunity in the contemporary world. One can, therefore, ask what kind of capitalism promotes forced labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-37
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Critical Thought
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • forced labour
  • unfree labour
  • ILO
  • neoliberalism
  • Archer
  • bonded labour


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