Call for papers: Everyday Abuse in the Global Economy


Guest Editors: Joel Quirk, Caroline Robinson, and Cameron Thibos

Deadline for Submissions: 15 November 2019


The Anti-Trafficking Review calls for papers for a special issue themed 'Everyday Abuse in the Global Economy'.   

Neoliberal policies have transformed both the world economy and the world of work. Workers in many different countries and economic sectors have been confronted with the erosion of hard-won rights and protections thanks to deregulation, outsourcing, and subcontracting. Corporate interests and government policies have become even more closely aligned. Trade unions have lost ground. These and other changes have made it harder and harder for workers to organise effectively. Recent decades have also been marked by the rapid growth of migrant labour, which is frequently defined by additional layers of vulnerability. Economic and technological changes have paved the way for new forms of work, such as those found in the so called 'gig-economy', where new categories of unstable, isolated, insecure and highly flexible work have emerged.


This Special Issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review will aim to explore how and why global patterns of work have changed; their impact upon labour rights, workplace protections, and collective organising and worker voices; and the practical effects - and future prospects - of different strategies for challenging everyday abuses. This last point also brings into focus the relationship between global systems of labour exploitation and high-profile campaigns targeting human trafficking, forced labour and 'modern slavery'. These campaigns have focused attention on exceptional cases of the 'worst of the worst', yet tend to have much less to say about everyday forms of labour abuse.


Rather than narrowly focusing on exceptional cases, we need to pay much more attention to abuses that arise from the smooth and regular operations of labour markets and migration systems. Human trafficking and forced labour are the tip of the iceberg as far as labour abuses are concerned. Equally importantly, we need to focus upon how workers seek to defend themselves against these types of everyday abuse, and what steps need to be adopted to reduce vulnerability and improve working conditions.


Most everyday abuses within the global economy do not amount to human trafficking (and the definition of trafficking does not need to expand further). It is clear, however, that economic and regulatory systems which enable everyday abuses - such as the deterioration of labour standards - also enable human trafficking and forced labour. We therefore need to view both exceptional cases and everyday abuses as symptoms of the much larger operations of global economic systems and labour regulations.


To help develop these themes, we welcome submissions which speak to one or more of the following questions . We particularly welcome contributions which provide grounded examples of how these themes have played out in specific industries or sectors, or which analyse and compare experiences between sectors and/or countries.

  1. How has the recent emergence of human trafficking and anti-slavery campaigns affected larger struggles for labour rights and workplace protections? Have these campaigns ended up either displacing or advancing labour rights?
  2. How have recent and ongoing economic, technological and regulatory changes paved the way for precarious models of work and employment? Who benefits from these changes? What have been their effects for workers?
  3. How do patterns of race- or gender-based discrimination interact with and exacerbate patterns and methods of labour abuse within the global economy?
  4. How have patterns and systems associated with migrant labour been affected by changes within the global economy? How do laws and regulations governing migration affect the capacity of workers to protect themselves against labour abuses?
  5. How does the underpayment and undervaluation of 'women's work' contribute to the normalisation of systems of abuse and exploitation in the global economy?
  6. What would it take to break down silos - both in research and practice - which have contributed to parallel yet separate conversations regarding informal work, precarious work, migrant work, sex work, and human trafficking and slavery? How and on what terms can these separate conversations be brought together?
  7. How can alliances be built between different types of workers, and between workers based in different countries, to prevent labour abuse and exploitation within the global economy and global supply chains?
  8. What models have been used to positive effect for elevating the voices and interests of precarious workers in order to hold governments and businesses to account for labour abuses within the global economy and global supply chains?
  9. What types of labour regulations and enforcement mechanisms should be introduced to help prevent labour abuse and pro-actively uphold labour law? Where and how have existing approaches and regulations fallen short?    

The Debate Section of this issue invites authors to defend or reject the following proposition: 'It is worth undermining the anti-trafficking cause in order to more directly challenge the systems producing everyday abuses within the global economy'.


Deadline for submissions: 15 November 2019.


Word count for full article submissions: 4,000 - 6,000 words, including footnotes, author bio and abstract.


Word count for debate submissions: 800 - 1,200 words, including footnotes and author bio. 


We advise those interested in submitting to follow the Review's style guide and submission procedures, available at Manuscripts should be submitted in line with the issue's theme. Email the editorial team at with any queries. 


Special Issue to be published in September 2020.