Left nationalism and labour migration: A law and political economy approach

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle (Specialist Publication)


I provide a law and political economy analysis of labour migration, focusing particularly on temporary, low-wage guest worker programmes. This analysis advances our understanding of the complex effects of migration on labour markets in at least three distinct ways. First, rather than just focusing on outcomes, a law and political economy approach seeks to elucidate processes. Migration is a dynamic phenomenon, which concurrently responds to domestic and international conditions as well as stimulates them. To obtain a complete picture of migration, it is important to see how labour markets create the conditions for the expansion of migration, and in turn, to think also about how migration contributes to the transformation of labour markets. Second, a law and political economy approach seeks to identify who benefits from migration. Narratives about the national benefits of migration often obscure the fact that labour markets are made up of actors with different class positions and divergent interests. Not everyone benefits equally from migration. Third, a law and political economy approach examines the constitutive role of the law in these processes. All forms of migration are not identical, and the legal rights and restrictions that accompany various forms of migration determine the degree and form of the political agency available to workers. In doing so, these legal rights and restrictions shape the labour market outcomes for domestic and migrant workers. The focus of this piece is on temporary labour migration because it brings many of these dynamics into sharp relief.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationFutures of Work
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Structured keywords

  • LAW Centre for Law at Work


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