Migration and Labour Markets: The Mediating Role of Legal Institutions

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


Critics of migration often claim that migrant workers displace local workers from jobs and apply downward pressure on wages. This article begins from the premise that it is impossible to understand the impact of migrant workers on labour markets without considering the functioning of law. Drawing on a reconstructed version of legal institutionalism, one which attends to the structuring influences of capitalist political economy and racism, this article considers the mediating role played by labour market institutions, such as collective bargaining and the contract of employment. An analysis of the historiography of migration to the UK since 1945 shows that labour market institutions have played a key role in influencing the inflow of migrant workers as well as the method of their incorporation into the labour market. In turn, migrant workers have intensified dynamics in the labour market that legal institutions have helped create, such as labour market segmentation. Migrant workers have also impacted the legal institutions themselves, either by being crucial actors in the creation of new legal institutions or by shaping the operation of existing ones.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustrial Law Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 2021

Structured keywords

  • LAW Centre for Law at Work


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