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Seminar: Clemens Sudhof / Dr. Johanna Wenckebach

Legality and Illegality, Employment and Exploitation


Course description

[update from 30 September 2013!]:

The Seminar will be devided in two working groups. One group will deal with the subject Legality / Illeagilty, the other one with the subject of Employment/Exploitation. The two groups will present and discuss their results together in the second half of the Seminar.


Legality / Illegailty

How does law define “unfree labour” and which rules exist to make it illegal? What about the effectiveness of these rules? In particular, we will discuss the influence of the legal status of immigrant workers on the effectiveness on legal rules against “unfree labour”. Basis for the discussions is a case in which the European Court of Human Rights speaks of “modern slavery”: In Siliadin vs. France (see recommended reading) a young immigrant successfully claimed that the French law did not afford her sufficient and effective protection against the servitude in which she had been held.


Employment / Exploitation

Is employment actually ever “free”? Can exploitation be “free labour”? And moreover: Is exploitation really linked with a hierarchical order? Experiences show that the worst working conditions may occur in the day-to-day work of self-employed persons, while industry jobs – dreadful in past times – now promise high salaries and a protected working environment. To put it in a metaphoric way: due to deregulation, economic liberalism and the enormous growth of the service sector, legal contracts may have taken the place of metal chains symbolizing unfree labour (at least) since the times of the Roman Empire. In this panel we will discuss thin line between employment and exploitation in 21th century capitalism and the ambivalent role of “freedom” in this context.

Recommended reading is the extract of the report on working conditions in the German parcel sector.


The report on legal and institutional incentives for undocumented work in private households is facultative reading.


Power Point Presentation


Recommended reading: