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Precarious LivesForced labour, exploitation and asylum$
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Hannah Lewis, Peter Dwyer, Stuart Hodkinson, and Louise Waite

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447306900

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447306900.001.0001

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Introduction: the return of slavery?

Introduction: the return of slavery?

(p.1) 1 Introduction: the return of slavery?
Precarious Lives

Hannah Lewis

Peter Dwyer

Stuart Hodkinson

Louise Waite

Policy Press

Chapter 1 situates the main arguments and evidence of the book within the current political climate and policy debates on migrants, labour market exploitation and the relationship to forced labour. The historical background to the recent emergence of the UK government’s draft Modern Slavery Bill in 2013 is initially discussed. The chapter argues that the government’s approach to the eradication of slavery and forced labour is flawed due to its limited focus on prosecution and criminalisation. This is argued to divert attention away from the fundamental role that asylum and immigration policy plays in reproducing migrant exploitation through producing stratified rights within different socio-legal statuses, in combination with a deregulated labour market. When combined with micro-level points of vulnerability, we argue these processes generate what we call hyper-precarious migrant lives. Chapter 1 closes by briefly outlining our study of forced labour among asylum seekers and refugees in the UK, setting out how and why we chose to explore these issues before providing synopses of subsequent chapters of the book and the key arguments they contain.

Keywords:   slavery, forced labour, refugees, migrant workers, hyper-precarity trap

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