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Name of Resource

Confronting root causes: forced labour in global supply chains


Report / analysis

Country / jurisdiction



openDemocracy, Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI), University of Sheffield

Date of publishing

September 2014


The report is organized around a metaphor – the classical economic metaphor of ‘supply and demand’. Within mainstream economic theory, the price of any particular good is not determined by the individuals who buy and sell it. Instead, the price results from a system-wide balance between how much of it is available in the world (supply), how many people want it, and how badly (demand).

The report looks at eight of these dynamics: four relating to supply and four relating to demand. On the supply side, the four dynamics the report looks at all contribute to creating a pool of workers vulnerable to exploitation. These include: poverty; identity and discrimination; limited labour protections and restrictive mobility regimes. The demand side includes: concentrated corporate power and ownership; outsourcing; irresponsible sourcing practices; and governance gaps.