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The Governance of Forced Labour in the Global Economy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Nicola Phillips, Fabiola Mieres

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-260
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jul 2014
E-pub ahead of print2 Jul 2014
Published4 Mar 2015

King's Authors


The problem of forced labour in the contemporary global economy is attracting increasing attention in global governance debates and policy circles. The effectiveness of governance initiatives depends on underlying understandings of the root causes of the problem. We explore how the root causes of forced labour in global production networks (GPNs) are framed in global governance debates. Focusing on the dominant frameworks mobilized by international institutions, with some attention to cognate national-level and corporate governance strategies, we identify certain limitations to dominant interpretations, which derive from their ‘residual’ character and their associated neglect of the manner in which the roots of forced labour reach deeply into the organization of GPNs, the forms of exploitation which are integral to them, and the connections between exploitation and poverty. We set out an alternative, ‘relational’ perspective on the roots of forced labour in GPNs, based on the concept of ‘adverse incorporation’, and consider the implications of the insights generated by this perspective for contemporary governance frameworks.

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