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The legal tragedy of exploitation: irresponsibility and the complicity of law
Stockholm University, Faculty of Law, Department of Law.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1751-0536
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article argues that labor litigation helps to sustain, rather than interrupt, the process of worker exploitation. Against the backdrop of legal claims raised by Uber drivers and Deliveroo riders in the UK, it focuses on the relevance of undue exploitation – i.e. exploitation beyond legal limits – as a mechanism that leverages capital accumulation, which simultaneously hedges against the liability that this mode of exploitation imposes. Even though it is reasonably safe to assume that this outcome is socially undesirable and should be curtailed by law, it will be shown that the legal framework of labor litigation is characterized by two complementary effects which end up reinforcing exploitation through the embeddedness of irresponsibility. First, it disassembles the reciprocity between exploitation and liability to allow for an extraordinary profit flow in favor of the exploiter. Second, it normalizes any residual profits derived from exploitation that persist beyond the rendering of a court award. These effects thematize exploitation as a gamble that will generally pay off, all the while embedding its deleterious social effects at a level that is no longer retrievable by law.

Keywords [en]
exploitation; labor litigation; courts; contingency; irresponsibility
National Category
Law (excluding Law and Society)
Research subject
Legal Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-228784OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-228784DiVA, id: diva2:1854849
Note

Under peer review (Journal of Law and Political Economy)

Available from: 2024-04-29 Created: 2024-04-29 Last updated: 2024-04-29
In thesis
1. Living as a commodity: Law, exploitation and the trade on human lives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Living as a commodity: Law, exploitation and the trade on human lives
2024 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation investigates the role of the law in affording the conditions of possibility for exploitation to install and reproduce itself in the context of contemporary capitalism. It engages with the dialectical incompossibility of some of the key normative assumptions embedded in the law and the economy vis-à-vis their phenomenological consequences. With support from Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory, the dissertation relies on two main examples – patents on essential medicines and labour exploitation – to examine the tension between expropriation and accumulation. It advances the novel concept of “ablegality” as a register for the remainder that every phenomenological-hermeneutic operation will inevitably generate as the potentiality that accompanies all phenomenological reduction. The principal contribution made through this dissertation lies in articulating the role of the invisibilised side of legal operations as drivers for exploitation and, ultimately, for injustice to manifest legally.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Law, Stockholm University, 2024
Keywords
exploitation, systems theory, ablegality, irresponsibility, critical theory
National Category
Law (excluding Law and Society) Sociology
Research subject
Legal Science, specialisation Public International Law
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-228785 (URN)978-91-8014-819-1 (ISBN)978-91-8014-820-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2024-06-14, ALB auditorium 3, house 2, Albano, Albanovägen 18 and online via Zoom, public link is available at the department website, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2024-05-22 Created: 2024-04-29 Last updated: 2024-05-16Bibliographically approved

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