Forced and Unfree Labour: An Analysis


In 2011, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) produced a new estimate 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 are explored 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 this is explored, 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.


Morgan, J.; Olsen, W. Forced and Unfree Labour: An Analysis. International Critical Thought (2014) 4 (1) 21-37. [DOI: 10.1080/21598282.2014.878144]

Forced and Unfree Labour: An Analysis

Published 1 January 2014