Unfree labor has not disappeared from advanced capitalist economies. In this sense the debates among and between Marxist and orthodox economic historians about the incompatibility of capitalism and unfree labor are moot: the International Labour Organisation has identified forced, coerced, and unfree labor as a contemporary issue of global concern. Previously hidden forms of unfree labor have emerged in parallel with several other well-documented trends affecting labor conditions, rights, and modes of regulation. These evolving types of unfree labor include the increasing normalization of contingent work (and, by extension, the undermining of the standard contract of employment), and an increase in labor intermediation. The normative, political, and numerical rise of temporary employment agencies in many countries in the last three decades is indicative of these trends.
It is in the context of this rapidly changing landscape that this book consolidates and expands on research designed to understand new institutions for work in the global era. This edited collection provides a theoretical and empirical exploration of the links between unfree labor, intermediation, and modes of regulation, with particular focus on the evolving institutional forms and political-economic contexts that have been implicated in, and shaped by, the ascendency of temp agencies. What is distinctive about this collection is this bi-focal lens: it makes a substantial theoretical contribution by linking disparate literatures on, and debates about, the co-evolution of contingent work and unfree labor, new forms of labor intermediation, and different regulatory approaches; but it further lays the foundation for this theory in a series of empirically rich and geographically diverse case studies. This integrative approach is grounded in a cross-national comparative framework, using this approach as the basis for assessing how, and to what extent, temporary agency work can be considered unfree wage labor
1. Temporary Work, Agencies and Unfree Labour: Insecurity in the New World of Work Kendra Strauss and Judy Fudge 2. Selling Flexibility: Temporary Staffing in a Volatile Economy Nik Theodore and Jamie Peck 3. Power Politics and Precariousness: The Regulation of Temporary Agency Work in the European Union Michael Wynn 4. Placing Filipino Caregivers in Canadian Homes: Regulating Transnational Employment Agencies in British Columbia Judy Fudge and Daniel Parrott 5. The Creation of Distinctive National Temporary Staffing Markets Neil M. Coe and Kevin Ward 6. The Persistence of Unfree Labour: The Rise of Temporary Employment Agencies in South Africa and Namibia Paul Benjamin 7. Temporary Work in China: Precarity in an Emerging Labour Market Feng Xu 8. Unfree Labour and the Regulation of Temporary Agency Work in the UK Kendra Strauss 9. Leased Labour and the Erosion of Workers’ Protection: The Boundaries of the Regulation of Temporary Employment Agencies in Québec Stéphanie Bernstein and Guylaine Vallée