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Property, Labour and Legal Regulation

Dignity or Dependence?

Mark Findlay

In this revealing comparative study, Mark Findlay examines the problematic nexus between undervalued labour and vulnerable migration status in dis-embedded markets. It highlights the frustrations raised by timeless regulatory failure and the chronic complicity of private property arrangements in delivering unsustainable market engagement. Mark Findlay identifies the challenge for normative and functional foundations of equitable governance, by repositioning regulatory principle, to restore dignity to market relations.
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Chapter 2: Private property relations and regulating the immigration–labour nexus

Mark Findlay


Every actual state is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well … Want of liberty, by strengthening the law and decorum, stupefies conscience.1

Migrant labour markets are under-regulated world-wide. If the measure is legal regulation then the deficiency becomes even more marked. This lacunae is no coincidence. One of the intentions of this chapter is to demonstrate the external and internal market forces at work in creating unsustainable dependencies between key market players, with particular focus on how migration rules adversely influence the health of the migrant labour market. Whether it be against a framework of rights, or contractual obligations, or workers’ health and safety, or migration registration and inspectorate it would be fair to anticipate that both public and private law fields would have an important regulatory function. The nature and extent of that function, and its dysfunctions, will be portrayed at key labour market crisis points, enabling the more particular focus on private law and property arrangements in Chapter 3.

There are two principle regulatory paradigms for migrant labour markets. Utilising employment contracting, agency and workplace conditions, the market acts as a regulator with the benefit in part of private law arrangements. Through mechanisms such as the domestic enforcement of international obligations, or the migration registration of worker flows, state regulation and its application of public law would feature. Both of these regulatory domains are lacking, we argue, so as often to favour the selective interests of propertied stakeholders and...

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