This paper aims paper to contribute to understandings of unfree labour in the contemporary global economy, the processes by which it is generated, and its consequences for poverty and vulnerability. It seeks to challenge dominant views of unfree labour as either external to GPNs or occurring solely within small-scale, localised or non-market contexts, and suggest that an excessively rigid theoretical attachment to a categorical distinction between unfree and free labour causes us collectively to miss the point about the kinds of labour relations that emerge in global production networks, and the contemporary forms that those unfreedoms take. The key argument is that unfree labour needs to be understood in 'relational' terms as a particular form of 'adverse incorporation' in global production networks (GPNs), constituted through the circular interaction of the organisation and functioning of GPNs, on the one hand, and, on the other, the social relations of poverty which give rise to vulnerability to severe labour exploitation. The paperI draws throughout on original empirical research conducted on \"slave labour\" in Brazilian agriculture and child labour in the Delhi garments sector.
CPRC Working Paper No. 176, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, ISBN: 978-1-906433-78-9, 37 pp.