Undergraduate Modules

Forced Labour, Human Trafficking, and Slavery in the Global Economy

Economists have long believed that capitalism would eradicate forced labour. Yet, the globalization of production in recent decades appears to have increased the prevalence of forced labour rather than diminished it. Furthermore, forced labour is increasing in importance as it feeds into the supply chains of major corporations, generating profits of over $150 billion annually.

This course will investigate why forced labour is thriving in the era of globalization, and the role of states and corporations in creating production systems that give rise to it. We will trace the changes in the organization and governance of global production that have facilitated forced labour's emergence and resilience, and examine the politics and effectiveness of government, activist, and corporate initiatives to combat it. We will consider the business demand for forced labour, why forced labour is more prominent in some industries and supply chains than others, and the individual and systemic factors that shape vulnerability to forced labour, trafficking, and slavery in developed and developing countries and in the global economy.

Topics include

  • Forced Labour's Root Causes in the Global Political Economy
  • Profit and Risk: The Business Demand for Forced Labour
  • Supplying Vulnerable Workers: Migration, Poverty & Inequality
  • Forced Labour in Global Supply Chains
  • Industry Variation: Garments, Electronics & Shrimp
  • The Role of States: Combatting or Sanctioning Forced Labour?
  • Slavery as Development Strategy?
  • Governance of Forced Labour: Global and National Initiatives
  • Prospects and Perils of Corporate Social Responsibility
  • The Slavery Industry? The Politics of Abolitionism

Module Code: POL3157

Semester: TBC


One 3,000-word essay
One oral presentation


11 two-hour seminars