Exploitation is often understood as either an economic or criminal phenomenon. This essay seeks to challenge this unduly narrow understanding by exploring the social dynamics of exploitation. In doing so, I develop a broad socio-legal concept of 'commodification' that enables the more subtle, social forms of exploitative labour relations to be examined. Commodoficiation here is a particular state of exploitation along the unfree labour continuum in which the worker's 'social character' is subordinated to their 'economic character'. I also consider the role of labour law in this framework, exploring how collective bargaining supports and develops the social character and what labour law's normative approach should be, arguing in favour of an empowerment approach based on self-determination. Finally, I apply the concept to irregular migrant workers in the UK, examining how inhibiting collective bargaining affects their social character and contributes to their commodification.
Keywords: Exploitation, Labour law, Immigration Law, Collective bargaining, Commodification, Irregular migrants, collective voice
How to Cite:
Beadsworth, J., (2022) “Collective Voice, Irregular Migrants and 'Social' Commodification”, Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 11(1), 98-133. doi: https://doi.org/10.14324/111.444.2052-1871.1360