Gender, Modern Slavery, and Labour Exploitation: Experiences of Male Polish Migrants in England

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This paper examines how gender affects Polish men’s vulnerability to labour exploitation in Britain, given the relatively little research investigating the role of gender in modern slavery labour exploitation. Drawing on a sample of male Polish migrants living in England, this paper makes a novel contribution by addressing several potential shortcomings of prior analyses in analysing the role of gender at different moments of the men’s experiences of exploitation. Key findings suggest some Polish men conform to traditional gender roles embedded in and shaped by Polish society and its specific socio-economic and political transformation. Their desire to conform intensifies pressures to migrate and work to uphold their status as providers. However, their accounts demonstrate that gendered pressures sometimes complicate concerns over unscrupulous labour dynamics, which increase their vulnerability to labour exploitation and prevent some from seeking help. Moreover, the reluctance to report their exploitation can unintentionally steer them into perilous situations or further exploitation, which raises important questions for victim reporting and protection. Many of these men’s accounts provide empirical support for gender-role conflict theory and the necessity for masculinity and its effects to be included in national policy and frameworks to address modern slavery.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Early online date10 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2021


  • Masculinities
  • Polish men
  • labour exploitation
  • migrant men
  • modern slavery

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Cathie Marsh Institute


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