Ioannou, G. and Dukes, R. (2021 forthcoming) Anything Goes? Exploring the Limits of Employment Law in UK Hospitality and Catering Industrial Relations Journal

Through a case study of the UK hospitality and catering sector, this article explores the limits of employment law as a means of protecting workers from ill or unfair treatment. Finding micro-violations of the law to be common practice in the sector – akin to industry norms or ‘custom and practice’ – it considers the routinization of these micro-violations as an instance of conflict between formal legal rules and social norms. The conflict is problematic because it means that workers are less likely to perceive breach of their legal rights as an injustice worthy of challenge. The industry norms observed have been formed under the influence of an asymmetrical distribution of information and power, including organizational control over the labour process. If employment law is to be made effective, a realignment of legal rules with social norms is needed and, at the same time, the correction of this asymmetry.

Lin, Ou (2021) Regulating On-Demand Work in China: Just Getting Started? Industrial Law Journal, forthcoming

In China, a significant and rising number of workers are engaged in on demand work. The legal status of on demand workers has been widely debated and it seems that the vast majority are not protected by labour law, since the law accords rights only to those workers with ‘labour relationships’. While there is widespread consensus in China that on demand workers need more protection, steps taken in that direction to date have been small indeed. This paper seeks to explain the current legal situation of Chinese on demand workers by outlining the responses to the spread of on demand work of the judicial and arbitration system, national government, trade unions and workers themselves. Addressing the question why on demand workers have not yet been accorded labour protections, it points in particular to the national government’s concern to maintain high levels of employment and ensure economic growth.


Ioannou, G. (2021) Employment, Trade Unionism and Class: The Labour Market in Southern Europe since the Crisis, London: Routledge ISBN: 9780367142889

This book provides a critical comparative assessment of change in the employment field, focusing on Spain, Greece and Cyprus. Reforms in employment law and the institutional context of collective bargaining and the upheaval and contentious politics sparked by the adoption of austerity are assessed in relation to trade unionism and class relations. The book assesses how the liberalization and deregulation processes and the promotion of market-enhancing reforms progressed in three different national settings, identifying the forces, agents, contexts, and mechanisms shaping the employment and industrial relations systems. The comparative perspective used deciphers the interplay of external and internal dynamics in the restructuring of the labour field in Southern Europe examining austerity and its contestation in connection with prevailing societal ideologies and class shifts. The first part of the book sets the theoretical and historical context, the second is comprised of three empirical national case studies and the third discusses comparatively the handling of the crisis, its impact, and its legacy from the standpoint of a decade later. The book presents differences in industrial relations systems, trade union forms and class composition dynamics, accounting for the development of the crisis and the reshaping of the employment field after one decade of crisis.


Dukes, Ruth and Wolfgang Streeck (2021, forthcoming) Post-Industrial Justice? Normativity and Empiricism in a Changing World of Work. In: van Seters, P. (ed.) The Anthem Companion to Philip Selznick. Anthem Press.

We revisit the theme of industrial justice developed by Philip Selznick in his 1969 study of Law, Society and Industrial Justice, asking, what can we learn or retain from Selznick’s work? Any attempt to reconstruct industrial justice today will encounter very significant obstacles. In the course of the past half century, several of the pillars of industrial citizenship have crumbled; working relations have become increasingly casualized and precarious; for a growing number of workers, there are by now no employing organizations in the physical sense that Selznick envisaged: spaces where workers meet with co-workers and managers on a daily basis. For many, an important feature of the current Corona pandemic has been a move to working from home; a move that for some may not be reversed or wholly reversed when the pandemic comes to an end. Viewed through a wide lens, this may be understood as an acceleration, stimulated by the Corona containment measures, of already apparent trends towards home working and, more generally, the fissuring, outsourcing or even disappearance of workplaces. With an eye to these trends, and to the changing spaces and organizational forms of work today, we identify as particularly instructive Selznick’s characteristic combination of normativity and empiricism, grounding everyday conceptions of justice in affective personal ties among socialized human actors.

Ioannou, G. (2020) The communicative power of trade unionism: labour law, political opportunity structure and social movement strategy, Industrielle Beziehungen/ German Journal of Industrial Relations Vol. 27:3, pp. 286-309

This article argues that more emphasis should be paid to the communicative power of trade unionism because it may constitute a starting point or a privileged standpoint which a trade union may use to counter its weakness regarding its other sources of power. Reviewing the trade union revitalisation literature, it is argued that social movement theory in general and especially ‘political opportunity structure’, can complement and enrich the power resources approach which is a useful tool in the analysis of trade union action. The case study of a weak trade union winning a strike largely as a result of its successful utilisation of its communicative power is presented where the public communication of the two sides to the conflict is subjected to content and discourse analysis. The article argues that trade unions can enhance their position through the adaptation of social movement strategy and campaign tactics into trade union activity because social movements are more accustomed to orienting their action in the public sphere. In this effort trade unions may draw upon the more explicitly normative and substantive dimension of labour law as a resource to legitimise and garner support for the unions’ objectives framing in a more expansive manner the issues at stake so that a significant section of society can identify with the trade union struggle at hand.


Eleanor Kirk, ‘Legal Consciousness and the Sociology of Labour Law’, (2020) Industrial Law Journal, forthcoming

Building on recent calls to expand the field of empirical labour law research, this article seeks to delineate a special place for legal consciousness research within a new sociology of labour law. The idea that employment relations have become increasingly juridified has been used to justify important policy interventions such as reforms to the employment tribunal system, restricting the ability of workers to bring claims. Yet, we know remarkably little about work-related legal consciousness in order to assess the purported growth of ‘litigiousness’ in society and its implications for policy. This article provides an extended critique of a recent text in the field of legal consciousness studies, Nobody’s Law by Marc Hertogh. What began as a straightforward review of Hertogh’s book became a defence of an earlier, seminal work by Ewick and Silbey, which Hertogh seeks but ultimately fails to discredit. Ewick and Silbey’s critical approach stands up well against close scrutiny. The debate centres upon issues of legal hegemony, and on epistemology and ontology in the sociological study of labour law.


Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck, ‘Labour Constitutions and Occupational Communities: Social Norms and Legal Norms at Work’, (2020) 47(4) Journal of Law and Society, 612-638

This paper considers the interaction of legal norms and social norms in the regulation of work and working relations, observing that, with the contraction of collective bargaining, this is a matter that no longer attracts the attention that it deserves. Drawing on two concepts from sociology –  Max Weber’s ‘labour constitution’ and Seymour Martin Lipset’s ‘occupational community’ – it focuses on possibilities for the emergence, within groups of workers, of shared normative beliefs concerning ‘industrial justice’ (Selznick); for collective solidarity and agency; for the transformation of shared beliefs into legally binding norms; and for the enforcement of those norms. If labour law is currently in ‘crisis’, then a promising route out of the crisis, we argue, is for the law to recover its procedural focus, facilitating and encouraging these processes.


Ruth Dukes, ‘Regulating Gigs’, Modern Law Review 2020, Vol.83(1) 217-228


Ruth Dukes, The Economic Sociology of Labour Law’, Journal of Law and Society 2019, Vol.46(3) 396-422

Drawing on the work of Max Weber, this article considers the utility of an approach to the study of labour law, which it calls the economic sociology of labour law (ESLL). It identifies the contract for work as the key legal institution in the field, and the primary focus of scholarly analysis. Characterizing the act of contracting for work as an example of what Weber called economic social action oriented to the legal order, it proposes that Weber’s notion of the labour constitution be used to map the context within which contracting for work takes place. And it argues that, in comparison to traditional socio‐legal approaches, ESLL has the significant advantage of allowing for account to be taken of the individual and commercial, as well as the social and legal, elements of contracting for work.

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Ruth Dukes, ‘The Labour Constitution: The Enduring Idea of Labour Law (Oxford University Press 2014)’, new paperback edition December 2017


Ruth Dukes, ‘From the Labour Constitution to an Economic Sociology of Labour Law’,  Jurisprudence 2018, Vol.9(2) 418-423


Ruth Dukes, ‘Introduction to Special Issue, Labour Laws and Labour Markets: New Methodologies’, Social & Legal Studies 2018, Vol.27(4) 407-413

This short piece of writing introduces a collection of papers by Judy Fudge, Diamond Ashiagbor, Simon Deakin, Shelley Marshall, Jenny Julen Votinius and Robert Knegt. It outlines the aims of the collaborative research project from which the papers resulted, referring to the event at which they were first presented, and it summarises the topic and argument of each paper in order.


Ruth Dukes, ‘Insiders, Outsiders and Conflicts of Interest’ in Diamond Ashiagbor, (ed) Re-Imagining Labour Law for Development: Informal Work in the Global North and South. (Hart 2018)

If labour law, as Arthurs puts it, ‘takes its purpose, form, and content from the larger political economy from which it originates and operates’, what shape does or should labour law assume in response to the transformation of the political economy in countries of the global North, with the declining prevalence of the postwar model of full employment within a formal welfare state regime? Correspondingly, what is the proper role to be played by labour law and labour relations institutions in the development process within industrialising countries of the global South?


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