What is it about?

Labour exploitation has long been considered from two opposing perspectives, either as an omnipresent feature in the employment market or as an extreme occurrence in labour relationships. Recent studies, however, claim that exploitation can be better understood as a continuum of heterogeneous practices. Our paper contributes to this debate by focusing on the case of migrant workers in Spain. The main objective is to access and bring to the surface the ‘hidden voices’ of migrant workers employed in four sectors: agriculture, construction, domestic service and hospitality. Using in-depth interviews and focus groups has allowed us to go beyond the dominant narratives on the phenomenon by embracing the privileged perspective of migrant workers on labour exploitation. This paper shows that labour exploitation cannot be fully understood without considering the relation that exists between two factors: the first operates at the structural level and relates to the extent to which discrimination, harm and exploitation of specific groups are intrinsic in the legitimate legal-economic system; whilst, the second factor revolves around migrant workers’ wilful agentive capacity for being recruited into exploitative situations and simultaneously their capacity for coping with exploitative practices and for working towards solutions aimed at improving their quality of life.

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This page is a summary of: ‘They think you belong to them’: migrant workers’ perspectives on labour exploitation in Spain, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, July 2023, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/1369183x.2023.2235896.
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