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The making of a foreign “labour aristocracy” in Botswana

Monageng Mogalakwe (University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether expatriate workers in Botswana are a labour aristocracy.


This is a case study based on documentary research methods


The evidence presented supports the case for the existence of a foreign labour aristocracy in Botswana. The labour aristocracy thesis has come under attack for describing the better‐paid workers as labour aristocrats and for its failure to take cognizance of the heterogeneity of the working class. Although it appears that the thesis has now been relegated to the periphery of labour studies debates, evidence from Botswana of a two tier wage structure, one for citizens and another for “expatriates”, resonates with the basic tenets of the labour aristocracy thesis.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need to revisit the debate and for more case studies from different Third World countries.

Practical implications

The paper highlights the difficulties faced by citizen employees in Botswana in seeking to improve their material conditions.


This paper reveals a linkage between a wages policy and the notion of national development in a specific society.



Mogalakwe, M. (2008), "The making of a foreign “labour aristocracy” in Botswana", Employee Relations, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 422-435.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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