Forced Labour in Supply Chains: Rolling Back the Debate on Gender, Migration and Sexual Commerce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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This article makes a conceptual contribution to the broader literature on unfree labour by challenging the separate treatment of sexual and industrial labour exploitation both by researchers and in law and policy. This article argues that the prevailing focus of the supply chain literature on industrial labour has inadvertently posited sexual labour as the “other” of industrial labour thus obfuscating how the legal blurring of boundaries between industrial and service labour is engendering new modalities of the erosion of workers’ rights that are increasingly resembling those typical of sex work. This article advances the debate on unfree labour both conceptually and empirically. Conceptually, it highlights the relevance of social reproduction in understanding forms of labour unfreedom. Empirically, it demonstrates the similarities in forms of control and exploitation between sex work and industrial work by illustrating how debt and housing operate in both settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-424
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Women's Studies
Issue number4
Early online date3 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Judy Fudge, Nicola Mai, Maria Fannin and May-Len Skilbrei ? thank you for your comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this article. I would also like to thank the anonymous peer reviewer, whose words I have borrowed to make my argument and contribution to the literature clearer, sharper and overall more focused. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Structured keywords

  • Migration Mobilities Bristol
  • Gender Research Group
  • Perspectives on Work
  • MGMT Work Organisation and Public Policy


  • human trafficking for sexual exploitation
  • informalization
  • social reproduction
  • supply chain capitalism
  • unfree labour


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