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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 5: Agents, pirates or slavers

Mark Findlay


If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.1

It is not simply that law should be more involved in the sustainable regulation project. Regarding migrant labour markets, populations on the move progressively encounter crucial decision sites in their search for a better life. Engaging at these decision sites (discussed in more detail in the following chapter) could be expected to be the state, private market interests or civil society contributing to a regulatory environment where sustainable market relationships and outcomes are advanced. The regulatory reality reveals both a lack of regulatory activity and, where it may be present, an unbalanced operation of regulatory responsibilities (see chapters 2 and 6).

The hypothesis that more outcome-oriented and more interest-balanced regulation will better produce a viable market framework leading to socially sustainable bonding, necessitates promoting regulation for migrant labour force beyond a humanitarian endeavour.2 Healthy labour markets cannot be confused with the exploitative commodification of cheap labour value, which in fact contributes little to the social sustainability of home and host nations.3 Even so, the monetary motivations of migrant workers should not be sublimated into a sustainability push that, because of short-term negative economic consequences, can endanger the legitimacy of the regulatory strategy from the perspective of those it is most designed to protect. In calling for the repositioning of law (through contract and agency)...

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