Regulating Transnational Labor: Theorizing Regulatory Challenges of Transnational Labor

Scholar in Residence Lecture I

  • Date: Jun 7, 2022
  • Time: 17:00
  • Speaker: Karen Shire
  • University of Duisburg-Essen
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Regulating Transnational Labor: Theorizing Regulatory Challenges of Transnational Labor
The three lectures assess the possibilities and challenges for regulating cross-border labor mobility in the global economy. Migration scholars often advocate for free mobility, while labor scholars focus on how cross-border labor is used to evade and undermine hard-won labor protections. Her lectures seek to gain leverage on the contradictions between liberalizing labor mobility and regulating employment. The focus is on the theorization of the regulatory challenges posed by cross-border labor mobility, and assessments of regulatory practices emerging at a transnational scale.

An increasing share of migration no longer results in immigration and settlement, but takes the form of temporary and circular exchanges of labor across borders. Examples include posted work, labor subcontracting, cross-border temporary staffing, illegal forms of forced and trafficked labor, but also “medium-skilled” industrial and service work. Building on theoretical discussions in the economic sociology of markets and labor sociology, Shire proposes a reconceptualization of migration as the organization of cross-border labor markets. The lecture focuses on the multiplicity of market-making actors, the coordination problems specific to the transnational exchange of labor power, and regulatory challenges and solutions in a comparative transnational perspective.

Publication recommended for preparatory reading

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