UCL Faculty of Laws


Structural Injustice and Workers’ Rights by Professor Mantouvalou published

10 March 2023

Structural Injustice and Workers’ Rights has been published by Oxford University Press.

Book cover of Structural Injustice and Workers’ Rights

Professor Virginia Mantouvalou (Professor of Human Rights and Labour Law at UCL Laws) published a new book on Structural Injustice and Workers’ Rights, OUP 2023, on the basis of her research project supported through a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. The book’s blurb is as follows:

When discussing exploitation in workplaces, governments typically deploy a rhetoric of personal responsibility: they place attention on employers who take advantage of workers, or on workers who choose non-standard, precarious work arrangements. On this account, the responsibility of the state is to address the harm inflicted by private actors.

This book questions the approach and develops the concept of 'state-mediated structural injustice at work': a phenomenon which manifests when legislation that has an appearance of legitimacy, in fact has very damaging effects for large numbers of people and results in structures of exploitation at work. Using a series of examples such as migrant workers, captive workers, people under welfare conditionality schemes, and other precarious workers, Mantouvalou shows how the law creates these structures of injustice, entrenching long-term, standard, and routine exploitation. She also assesses these examples against human rights principles, including civil, political, economic, and social rights. The ultimate aim of the work is to show that these structures routinely lead to workers' exploitation which may in turn give rise to state responsibility for human rights violations and to argue that there is a pressing need for reform.

Professor Mantouvalou will be speaking at upcoming panels to mark the launch of the book:

Monday 27 March 2023: Structures of Injustice, the Law, and Exploitative Work, LSE Legal and Political Theory Forum, 5-7pm. With Hugh Collins, Nicola Lacey and Anne Phillips of LSE as speakers, and Thomas Poole as moderator.

Wednesday 24 May 2023: Book Launch: Structural Injustice and Workers’ Rights, Oxford University Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, 5-6.30pm, with Bridget Anderson (Bristol University), Shreya Atrey (Oxford University), Samantha Currie (Liverpool University), Emily Kenway (Edinburgh University), Maayan Niezna (Oxford University) as speakers, and Manoj Dias-Abey (Bristol University) as moderator.

You can also listen to a Political Philosophy Podcast interview on the book.