CLP - Race, Legal Form and the Labour Contract

Thu May 09 2024 at 06:00 pm to 07:00 pm

UCL Faculty of Laws | London

UCL Laws
Publisher/HostUCL Laws
CLP -  Race, Legal Form and the Labour Contract
This lecture will be delivered by Professor Diamond Ashiagbor, as part of the Current Legal Problems Lecture Series 2023-24
About this Event

Speaker: Professor Diamond Ashiagbor (University of Kent)

Chair: Professor Nicola Countouris (UCL Laws)

About the lecture

The dominant legal form for governing work relations in the UK, the standard employment relationship, provides a historically specific mode of capturing social and economic relations of labour within market economy. However, these economic relations can only be ‘seen’ by law when they take the form of legal relations between individual subjects, in this case, the contract of employment governing a bilateral relationship between worker and employing entity. Much else – the inequality of bargaining power between the parties, the broader structures within which the bilateral relationship exists, the unpaid work of social reproduction, the colonial extraction which makes the paid work possible – is invisible for the purposes of legal form. Thus, the gendered and racialised origin of the labour contract is erased, and the legal form itself systematically excludes certain groups from the scope of labour law.

This lecture tracks the continuing effects of linking employment protection rights, collectively bargained standards, and entitlements within the Keynesian welfare state to the standard employment relationship which co-evolved alongside vertically integrated firms, industrial trade unions and the welfare state. It contributes to critical analysis of legal forms adopted within racial capitalism, as well as to the empirical study of social relations of work.

Workers who are perhaps most in need of social and labour law protection are most likely to be excluded from its scope: those subject to non-standard arrangements which lack the ongoing promise of future work (e.g. ‘zero hours’ contracts); or which are mediated via a third party (e.g. agency work); or which take place within the ‘household workplace’. There is a racialised ‘clustering’ in contemporary labour markets, with Black and minority ethnic workers and those of migrant origin increasingly subject to precariatisation, dominating the occupational periphery even when located in the geographic core. This lecture explores how, for racialised and migrant workers, this exclusion from the standard employment relationship mirrors the history of racialised exclusion from institutions of social citizenship, tracing contemporary continuities with colonial and postcolonial legal forms.

About the speaker

Diamond Ashiagbor is Professor of Law at the University of Kent, UK. She is an interdisciplinary legal scholar whose research and teaching span labour law, equality, race and colonialism, regionalism (European Union and African Union), trade and development, economic sociology of law. She is a graduate of the University of Oxford and has a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence. Her most recent edited book was Re-imagining labour law for development: informal work in the global North and South, Hart Publishing. She has previously been Professor of Law at SOAS University of London, Reader in Law at University College London, and has held visiting positions at Columbia Law School, Melbourne Law School, and Osgoode Hall. She is a member of the editorial board of European Law Open, and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS). Diamond has been a winner of the Peter Birks/SLS Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship; and recipient of a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellowship; a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship; and a British Academy Senior Research Fellowship. She is a Trustee of Black Cultural Archives.

About Current Legal Problems

The Current Legal Problems (CLP) lecture series and annual volume was established over fifty five years ago at the Faculty of Laws, University College London and is recognised as a major reference point for legal scholarship. Sign up for the mailing list to receive emails about Current Legal Problems lectures

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Event Venue & Nearby Stays

UCL Faculty of Laws, Endsleigh Gardens, London, United Kingdom


GBP 0.00

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