Dignity or Dependence?
Chapter 3: Private law, private property arrangements and inclusivity
The law in establishing property … has realized an abstraction, a metaphor, a fiction …1
As the previous chapter sets out, the empirical foundation of the remainder of the book is a comparative analysis of vulnerable migrant labour markets providing examples of law’s disembedding history as a regulatory agent or shadow. The private property arrangements which operate and benefit from migrant labour are dependent both on discriminatory legal regulation and the selective advantages presented by laws’ limited or even absent reach. This chapter explores more particularly the role of private law and introduces the fluid interactions between private legal arrangements and the more informal market negotiation frames which perpetuate the vulnerability and dependency wherein migrant labour lives.
Chapters 4 and 5 highlight contracts and agency as crucial private property arrangements through which legal regulation has deeply problematic influence over migrant labour markets. The relationships of dependency and vulnerability explored in the preceding chapter are given both form and substance though the interventions (and failings) of legal regulatory regimes such as contract and agency.
The critical analysis of the private property/private law nexus, however, depends on a more general identification of the private law field with which we intend to engage, as well as the current direction of legal regulation being a socially exclusive market force. In contrast with this, the chapter will later explore ways in which transformed legal regulation can indeed make private property arrangements more ‘viable’ within the wider critique that...
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