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Structures of Injustice, the Law, and Exploitative Work

Mantouvalou, Virginia; (2024) Structures of Injustice, the Law, and Exploitative Work. In: Browne, Jude and McKeown, Maeve, (eds.) What is Structural Injustice? (pp. 241-259). Oxford University Press Green open access

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In this chapter, I examine structures of injustice at work and assess the role of the state in creating vulnerability to exploitation through concrete and identifiable legal rules. In so doing, I build on the work of Iris Marion Young. When analysing the fictional story of Sandy as a typical story of structural injustice, Young said that no individual or state action can be identified as the major cause of her predicament. In my chapter, I scrutinise the role of the state by presenting the (real) story of Marcell who was trapped in exploitative working arrangements and in-work poverty (McBride, Smith and Mbala, “‘You End Up with Nothing’: The Experience of Being a Statistic of “In-Work Poverty” in the UK’, (2018) 32 Work, Employment and Society 210). Even though Marcell’s story appears to be very similar to the story of Sandy, when we look at it more closely we can identify what I call ‘statemediated structures of injustice’ at work, namely concrete legal rules that are prima facie legitimate but which increase workers’ vulnerability that is systematically exploited by private actors. I argue that the state is responsible for these laws that create vulnerability and are connected to structures of exploitation. My ultimate aim is to assess on the basis of this framework in what circumstances the state may have legal responsibility arising from human rights law to change the rules and destabilise the unjust structures in question.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Structures of Injustice, the Law, and Exploitative Work
ISBN-13: 9780198892878
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/what-is-st...
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access title available under the terms of a [CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International] licence.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10142479
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