Fall 2019 - LBST 307 E100

Unfree Labour and Modern Slavery: Understanding Coercion and Exploitation in Contemporary (3)

Class Number: 9400

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Tue, 5:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Strongly Recommended: LBST 101.



An exploration of the expanding forms of unfree labour in capitalist economies as products of changing labour processes, global labour markets, and the policies of neoliberalism and 'austerity'.


This course considers the most severe forms of unfree labour and modern slavery and the ways in which a state security versus human security approach is related to the growing numbers of displaced persons, irregular migration trends and more specifically, reported incidences of human trafficking against the backdrop of neoliberal economic and social policies.


We begin by critically engaging the concept of unfree labour, which has consumed much of contemporary international debates across the political spectrum. The impacts of law and policy development are considered in relation to international trade, focusing on contemporary forms of modern slavery. We will pay close attention to questions of gender, race, and inequality in the construction and reproduction of international markets, as well as to the role of various agents and social movements in contesting and reinforcing these relations. We will aim to critically reflect on contemporary narratives about the public policy concerning unfree labour and modern slavery in order to arrive at a socially nuanced international political economy explanation of labour.


  • Critical review essay 20%
  • Research paper proposal 10%
  • Research paper 40%
  • Presentation 20%
  • Participation 10%


Grading: The letter grade N (incomplete) is given when a student has enrolled for a course, but did not write the final examination or otherwise failed to complete the coursework, and did not withdraw from the course before the deadline date. An N is considered and F for purposes of scholastic standing. 

Grading System: Undergraduate Course Grading System is A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D, F, N (N standing to indicate the student did not complete).

A+ 95-100 B+ 80-84 C+ 65-69 D 50-54
A 90-94 B 75-79 C 60-64 F 0-49
A- 85-89 B- 70-74 C- 55-59  

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



Andrees, B., & Belser, P. (Eds.). (2009). Forced Labor: Coercion and Exploitation in the Private Economy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. (online access)
ISBN: 978-1-588266897

Bales, K. (2004). Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy, 3rd edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. (online access)
ISBN: 978-0-520272910

Fudge, J., & Strauss, K. Temporary Work, Agencies and Unfree Labour: Insecurity in the New World of Work. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. (online access)
ISBN: 978-1-299828988

LeBaron, G. (Ed.). (2019). Researching Forced Labour in the Global Economy: Methodological Challenges and Advances. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISBN: 978-0-197266472

Locke, R. (2013). The Promise and Limits of Private Power: Promoting Labor Standards in a Global Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (online access)
ISBN: 978-1-107670884

Electronic journal articles, reports, and primary sources will be available online.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html