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Article
Publication date: 17 September 2010

Claire Griffiths and Kevin Bales

Kevin Bales' work on contemporary slavery has brought this under‐researched field of social enquiry to the attention not only of the academic world but to a wider global…

Abstract

Purpose

Kevin Bales' work on contemporary slavery has brought this under‐researched field of social enquiry to the attention not only of the academic world but to a wider global audience through his prolific publishing, his film work and not least his presidency of Free the Slaves, the US anti‐slavery organisation. The purpose of this paper is to explore some of his findings and methodologies currently prevailing in this field.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on an interview with Kevin Bales conducted in April 2009 and subsequent discussions with Claire Griffiths.

Findings

Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, the book that brought Bales global recognition over a decade ago, reinstated slavery as a key human rights issue on the research agenda for the twenty‐first century. This interview is condensed from a longer discussion between Kevin Bales and Claire Griffiths on researching contemporary slavery. In this conversation they explore the relationship between slavery, trafficking and prostitution, a theme that leads the discussion to the gendered nature of slavery through the centuries. The interview concludes with some indications of where slavery studies research is going in the twenty‐first century.

Originality/value

This paper provides new insights into the emerging and interdisciplinary field of modern slavery studies.

Details

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, vol. 29 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-7149

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Article
Publication date: 10 February 2021

Joanne Meehan and Bruce D. Pinnington

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether firms' transparency in supply chain (TISC) statements indicate that substantive action is being taken on modern slavery in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether firms' transparency in supply chain (TISC) statements indicate that substantive action is being taken on modern slavery in UK government supply chains.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyse 66 of the UK government's strategic suppliers' TISC statements and 20 key documents related to the policy intent of the UK Parliament, 2015 TISC requirements. Qualitative document analysis identifies what suppliers say they are doing and what they are not saying to provide novel insights into how firms employ ambiguity to avoid timely action on modern slavery in their supply chains A set of propositions are developed.

Findings

The authors elaborate the concepts of time and change in socially sustainable supply chains and illustrate how firms use ambiguity in TISC statements as a highly strategic form of action to defend the status quo, reduce accountability and delay action for modern slavery within supply chains. The authors identify three ambiguous techniques: defensive reassurance, transfer responsibility and scope reduction that deviate from the policy intention of collaborative action.

Social implications

The results illustrates how ambiguity is preventing firms from taking collaborative action to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains. The lack of action as a result of ambiguity protects firms, rather than potential victims of modern slavery.

Originality/value

Prior research focuses on technical compliance rather than the content of firms' TISC statements. This qualitative study provides novel insights into the policy-resistant effects of ambiguity and highlights the dynamic and instrumental role of modern slavery reporting. Theoretically, we identify accountability as an essential concept to address the causes of modern slavery in supply chains and for developing collaborative supply chain environments to tackle the issues.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Book part
Publication date: 11 June 2014

In this introductory chapter, the main issues running through Child Labour in Global Society are identified and a perspective on making sense of these issues is outlined.

Abstract

In this introductory chapter, the main issues running through Child Labour in Global Society are identified and a perspective on making sense of these issues is outlined.

The central concern is child labour within the schooling process of modern and modernizing societies under globalization, that process through which children’s labour power is produced for consumption during the process itself and beyond.

The driving issue is the implications of the compulsory aspect of schooling given prevailing notions of ‘slavery’, and especially that definition which is well established in law on all planes from the international to the regional to the domestic.

Given these notions, the question arises: ‘can the modern schooling process be regarded as enslaving?’

The view that slaves are commoditized people is addressed, along with the argument that the commodification of people is a culturally contingent process.

From the ‘processual perspective’, slavery at the individual and societal levels appears as a process of transformation that involves changes and phases.

Just as individual slaves undergo transformations in their social status, so societies undergo transformations over various matters relating to slavery, including which people can be enslaved, what counts as slavery, and so on.

The claim that in modern and modernizing societies, people are enslaved in so far as they are compulsorily required to perform labour within the schooling process is introduced, as is the argument that such slavery is endorsed by human rights law and agreements, not least by the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

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Article
Publication date: 28 July 2020

Katherine Leanne Christ, Roger Leonard Burritt and Stefan Schaltegger

With the initial focus on the extreme end of the work conditions continuum where, in the last decade, legislation has been introduced to combat illegal and illegitimate…

Abstract

Purpose

With the initial focus on the extreme end of the work conditions continuum where, in the last decade, legislation has been introduced to combat illegal and illegitimate practices, this issue's lead paper provides an overview on key topics of extreme work conditions of modern slavery and accounting. The paper introduces the Special Issue on “Accounting for modern slavery, employees and work conditions in business” and its selected papers.

Design/methodology/approach

The method adopted is a wide-ranging literature review exploring the continuum of work conditions and their relationship to accounting, especially extreme exploitation of workers through modern slavery.

Findings

Employment and workplace conditions and practices in business can be viewed as a continuum ranging from the illegal and illegitimate practices of modern slavery, through unethical and often illegal practices such as wages theft, to decent work. Given this continuum, in this Special Issue avenues are identified for accounting research to provide an account of the effectiveness of actions taken to eliminate modern slavery and overcome grey areas of work conditions.

Practical implications

The paper helps to create an improved understanding of different types of exploitation in work conditions in different industries and the role accounting might play in research and practice.

Social implications

Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. Instead, it changed its forms and continues to harm people in every country in the world especially in certain industries, of which several are discussed and accounting advice proffered. Likewise, as reflected in Special Issue papers, the role of accounting in reducing less extreme forms of poor work conditions is also considered.

Originality/value

The paper provides an overview of different forms and degrees of exploitation in work conditions and identifies the need for and areas of accounting research in this emerging area.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 30 November 2011

Dylan Rodríguez

A devastating racial logic remains at play in the moment of a “post-civil rights” Black presidency. Barack Obama's ascent has amplified a national mythology of racial…

Abstract

A devastating racial logic remains at play in the moment of a “post-civil rights” Black presidency. Barack Obama's ascent has amplified a national mythology of racial progress in the US multiculturalist age. This mythology has fundamentally undermined both the credibility and critical traction of existing scholarly-activist languages of racism, antiracism, white supremacy, and institutionalized racial dominance. Thus, the discourse of national-racial vindication that animates Obama's ascendance can and must be radically opposed with creative historical narrations. These narrations must attempt to explain how and why systems of racial dominance and state-condoned, state-sanctioned racist violence remain central to the shaping of our present tense. The chapter approaches this problematic by examining how the historical social logics of racial chattel slavery cannot be historically compartmentalized and temporally isolated into a discrete “past,” because they are genocidal in their structuring and are thus central to the constitution of our existing social and cultural systems. The apparatus of the North American racial chattel institution must be theorized in its present tense articulations because its logics of power, domination, and violence have never really left us. The essay offers a schematic elaboration of this reconceptualization of racial genocide focusing on how the slavery's abolition in the latter-19th century provides the political, cultural, and legal basis for slavery's “reform” into the apparatuses of policing, criminalization, widespread and state-sanctioned antiblack bodily violence, and ultimately massive imprisonment. This examination allows for an elaboration of how slavery's genocidal social logics permeate the present tense social formation, particularly at the site of massive racial criminalization and imprisonment.

Details

Rethinking Obama
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-85724-911-1

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Book part
Publication date: 20 December 2017

Rasmus Sielemann

Drawing upon recent interests in Michel Foucault’s anti-essentialist conception of the state, I provide an analysis of state power in colonial slave societies that is…

Abstract

Drawing upon recent interests in Michel Foucault’s anti-essentialist conception of the state, I provide an analysis of state power in colonial slave societies that is attentive to the ongoing processes of “statification” and governmentalization of the state. This approach represents an alternative to classic state theory, which seems inadequate to describe the diverse political context of Caribbean colonial slave societies.

I apply the Foucauldian conception of the state to the empirical case of the Danish West Indies in the second half of the 18th century. Here, I focus on the problem of public order and its formation in relation to growing concerns over general economic, social, demographic, and political risks that the institution of slavery posed to colonial society. I argue that the slave laws of the 18th century can be seen as a governmental strategy to manage the risks of slavery by constituting a public order that would be subject to policing by the state. I also argue, however, that the specific circumstances of colonial slavery shaped the regulative practices toward the necessities of a flexible, adjustable, responsive government. I suggest that this should be interpreted as a governmental strategy calibrated to the realities of the specificities of colonial rule, rather than simply a reflection of incoherence and incompetence on the part of colonial authorities. The larger argument is that actual state practices have to be seen as results of problems of government in a given context, and as a function of the dynamic and reciprocal processes of government.

Details

Rethinking the Colonial State
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78714-655-6

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Book part
Publication date: 1 January 2014

This chapter is about child labour as slavery in modern and modernizing societies in an era of rapid globalization.For the most part, child slavery in modern societies is…

Abstract

This chapter is about child labour as slavery in modern and modernizing societies in an era of rapid globalization.

For the most part, child slavery in modern societies is hidden from view and cloaked in social customs, this being convenient for economic exploitation purposes.

The aim of this chapter is to bring children's ‘modern slaveryout of the shadows, and thereby to help clarify and shape relevant social discourse and theory, social policies and practices, slavery-related legislation and instruments at all levels, and above all children's everyday lives, relationships and experiences.

The main focus is on issues surrounding (i) the concept of ‘slavery’; (ii) the types of slavery in the world today; (iii) and ‘child labour’ as a type, or basis, of slavery.

There is an in-depth examination of the implications of the notion of ‘slavery’ within international law for child labour, and especially that performed through schooling.

According to one influential approach, ‘slavery’ is a state marked by the loss of free will where a person is forced through violence or the threat of violence to give up the ability to sell freely his or her own labour power. If so, then hundreds of millions of children in modern and modernizing societies qualify as slaves by virtue of the labour they are forced – compulsorily and statutorily required – to perform within schools, whereby they, their labour and their labour power are controlled and exploited for economic purposes.

Under globalization, such enslavement has almost reached global saturation point.

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Book part
Publication date: 18 November 2020

Sanja Milivojevic, Bodean Hedwards and Marie Segrave

This chapter considers the impetus for the inclusion of labour rights and secure work rights, with a particular focus on countering human trafficking and what is now…

Abstract

This chapter considers the impetus for the inclusion of labour rights and secure work rights, with a particular focus on countering human trafficking and what is now widely known as ‘modern slavery’ in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs comprise 17 goals and 169 targets set to assist nation states in achieving sustainable development in the ‘five P’ areas: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. In this chapter we analyse goals and targets that focus on modern slavery and adult human trafficking (in particular sex trafficking and trafficking for forced labour), and review the SDGs in the context of existing international counter-trafficking and slavery mechanisms. We consider what this novel framework has to offer when it comes to addressing these forms of exploitation. In so doing, the chapter considers the likely impact of the SDGs to preventing and countering these exploitative practices, and its potential usefulness within the broader spectrum of counter-trafficking/slavery mechanisms. We suggest that the SDGs are yet another international instrument that makes strong rhetorical commitments to the intersections of labour, migration and exploitation, but lacks clarity and operational strength it needs to lead the path in reduction, if not elimination of such exploitative practices. Finally, we analyse the extent to which this instrument continues to ignore the factors that contribute to or sustain the conditions for exploitation, namely the impact of migration policies and the gendered nature of the issue.

Details

The Emerald Handbook of Crime, Justice and Sustainable Development
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-355-5

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Article
Publication date: 8 July 2020

Michael Rogerson, Andrew Crane, Vivek Soundararajan, Johanne Grosvold and Charles H. Cho

This paper investigates how organisations are responding to mandatory modern slavery disclosure legislation. Experimentalist governance suggests that organisations faced…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper investigates how organisations are responding to mandatory modern slavery disclosure legislation. Experimentalist governance suggests that organisations faced with disclosure requirements such as those contained in the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 will compete with one another, and in doing so, improve compliance. The authors seek to understand whether this is the case.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is set in the UK public sector. The authors conduct interviews with over 25% of UK universities that are within the scope of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and examine their reporting and disclosure under that legislation.

Findings

The authors find that, contrary to the logic of experimentalist governance, universities' disclosures as reflected in their modern slavery statements are persistently poor on detail, lack variation and have led to little meaningful action to tackle modern slavery. They show that this is due to a herding effect that results in universities responding as a sector rather than independently; a built-in incapacity to effectively manage supply chains; and insufficient attention to the issue at the board level. The authors also identity important boundary conditions of experimentalist governance.

Research limitations/implications

The generalisability of the authors’ findings is restricted to the public sector.

Practical implications

In contexts where disclosure under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 is not a core offering of the sector, and where competition is limited, there is little incentive to engage in a “race to the top” in terms of disclosure. As such, pro-forma compliance prevails and the effectiveness of disclosure as a tool to drive change in supply chains to safeguard workers is relatively ineffective. Instead, organisations must develop better knowledge of their supply chains and executives and a more critical eye for modern slavery to be combatted effectively. Accountants and their systems and skills can facilitate this development.

Originality/value

This is the first investigation of the organisational processes and activities which underpin disclosures related to modern slavery disclosure legislation. This paper contributes to the accounting and disclosure modern slavery literature by investigating public sector organisations' processes, activities and responses to mandatory reporting legislation on modern slavery.

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Article
Publication date: 25 September 2019

Anthony Flynn

This paper aims to investigate the determinants of corporate compliance with the transparency in supply chains provision of the UK Modern Slavery Act. While recent…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the determinants of corporate compliance with the transparency in supply chains provision of the UK Modern Slavery Act. While recent scholarship has described what firms are doing to comply with this Act, no attempt has been made to explain their behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

A predictive model of corporate compliance with modern slavery reporting is tested using secondary data from Financial Times Stock Exchange 350 firms. The model is informed by institutional theory and, in particular, by Oliver’s (1991) insights into the conditions under, which firms respond to institutional pressures.

Findings

Compliance with modern slavery reporting is found to be significantly related to firm size, prior social responsibility commitment, network involvement, industry and headquarter base (UK versus non-UK). Other predictors such as media exposure, shareholder concentration and profitability are found to be non-significant.

Research limitations/implications

The focus is on the 350 largest publicly listed companies in the UK. The stances that firms outside of this cohort are taking on modern slavery reporting still need to be investigated.

Practical implications

Compliance with the UK Modern Slavery Act varies by industry. Regulators should consider this as a part of risk profiling strategies and follow-up inspection of firms.

Originality/value

This paper provides the first theoretically grounded examination of the organisational and environmental factors that determine corporate compliance with modern slavery reporting.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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